By Alyssa Schnugg
Masks are once again required inside city-owned facilities when social distancing cannot be achieved.
The Oxford Board of Aldermen approved the mandate Tuesday night during their regular meeting.
The mandate excludes people who are exercising or playing a sport indoors, like at the Oxford Activity Center. However, spectators will be required to wear a mask, at least for the next two weeks until the Board revisits the mandate.
The vote came after Emergency Management Coordinator Jimmy Allgood presented an update of local COVID-10 numbers.
Since Jan. 1, Lafayette County has gained 489 new cases. Monday, the county gained 155 new cases alone, bringing the total number of cases since March 2020 in Lafayette County to 10,028, with 143 deaths.
According to Allgood, as of Dec. 4, 99.2 cases of COVID-19 in Mississippi were of the Delta variant and the Omicron variant was just .6 percent of new cases.
“By Jan. 1, 2022, the Delta variant was 4.6 percent of the cases and Omicron was 95.4 percent,” Allgood said. “Initial models suggest the Omicron variant’s transmissibility is as high as 1.6 times more than the Delta variant.”
Mayor Robyn Tannehill reported that there were 42 patients with COVID-19 at Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi as of Tuesday, with eight patients in ICU.
“The patients in the hospital November, December and this first week of January, 86 percent were not vaccinated,” Tannehill said. “People who are vaccinated are getting Covid, but the large majority who are vaccinated are not going to the hospital.”
Earlier in the meeting, Tannehill said that the city had “quite a few employees out with COVID-19,” including nine employees in the Environmental Services Department, and “half” of the employees in the Building Department.
“We are not going to be able to get everything done in a timely manner right now and we ask the public to be patient,” she said. “We’re going to work as hard and as fast as we can.”
The increase in cases is occurring across the state. On Monday, the Mississippi State Department of Health reported 17,525 new cases and five deaths from Dec. 29-Jan. 2. On Tuesday, the state reported another 4,840 new cases of COVID-19 with 37 deaths. Ten of these deaths occurred between Dec. 13 and Jan. 3. An additional 27 deaths occurred between April 13, 2020, and Dec. 28, 2021, identified from death certificate reports.
The Board also approved allowing restaurants on the Square to utilize one reserved parking spot for curbside pick-up orders.
“I think that’s one of the safest ways we can support our local businesses,” Tannehill said.