Clay County may soon join 54 other Mississippi counties that Gov. Tate Reeves has placed under a mask-wearing executive order to help curb the spread of COVID-19, the county’s Emergency Management Agency Director Torrey Williams told the West Point Board of Selectmen at its regular meeting Tuesday.
Right now, Clay County is the only one in the Golden Triangle not under a mask mandate from the governor, due to its relatively low case numbers, though the city of West Point is under a local mask mandate. However, Williams said there were 76 new COVID-19 cases confirmed in the county in the last week alone.
“We have been averaging about 10, 20 a week,” Williams told selectmen.
He said it’s possible the higher number this past week was due to a reporting delay over the Thanksgiving holiday or a higher-than-average number of people getting COVID-19 tests before they travel for the holidays.
“I’m hoping that that 76 … was just abnormal,” he told The Dispatch after the meeting. “… With everybody getting tested before the holidays, before they travel, and I’m hoping that’s what that’s actually from and now people know they are positive.”
COVID-19 numbers are increasing dramatically throughout the state and country, with 1,732 new cases and 56 new deaths in Mississippi on Monday alone, according to the most recent data available on the Mississippi State Department of Health website.
Williams also said CCEMA received $264,000 in CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act funds to reimburse the city for personal protective equipment and paid overtime for police officers and other officials who have had to work extra hours to enforce the mask mandate and 10 p.m.-5 a.m. curfew. Selectmen extended that curfew Tuesday through the next board meeting on Jan. 12, 2021.
In other business, selectmen heard an update on a planned substation to be built on the western part of Old White Road.
Chief Administrative Officer Randy Jones told selectmen he has received several bids for the construction of the substation, which is slated to be completed in December of next year. He asked the board to schedule a special-call meeting for sometime after Thursday so he could present the bids.
The lowest of the bids is about $2 million, with the highest at $4 million, Jones told The Dispatch after the meeting.
Half the $3.2 million project is being paid for by Peco Foods, which opened in the old Bryan Foods freezer in West Point in 2018. Jones said the substation will power Peco, which is in the process of constructing a new par-fry facility. The city will be responsible for maintenance of the substation.
Selectmen also unanimously approved for Jones to advertise bids for the materials for the substation as well, including circuit breakers and relay panels.