SMITHVILLE – Mayor Earl Wayne Cowley and the board of aldermen declared a state of emergency for Smithville at a special called meeting March 20. Due to the recent COVID-19 outbreak, the proclamation was ordered to provide the town the ability to do what is necessary to respond adequately and ensures the town be reimbursed for those actions by the Federal and Mississippi emergency management agencies in the future.

The meeting also included the board of aldermen taking alternative action in response to the outbreak. A resolution temporarily suspending utility shutoff within the town limits and a one-mile radius outside of town; this following suit and by recommendation of the Mississippi Northern District Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley. This resolution does not, however, alleviate the customers’ obligation to pay the bill.

A new administrative leave policy was put in place regarding the pay of employees during an emergency situation, and a new infectious disease operation manual for the town was put in place.

Currently, the town is opened for business, however, the lobby of Town Hall, located at 63443 Hwy. 25 N, is closed indefinitely – to protect residents and employees by limiting face-to-face contact in response to the worsening COVID-19 outbreak.

Payment for bills and court fines can be placed in the after-hours drop box on the side of the building. Payments can also be made by mail or online (msezpay.com). Customers wanting new service should call Town Hall at 651-4411 to start the application process; most of this transaction can be done over the phone.

The Smithville Water Department has also been instructed to keep its office locked as a practical strategy of social distancing. Town employees have been directed to limit face-to-face meeting with the public as much as possible.

The town is also disinfecting commonly touched surfaces in Town Hall and other public buildings.

All event organizers have been instructed to cancel or postpone town events. Cowley urges residents, businesses and visitors to follow state-recommended guidelines advising people to avoid large gatherings and to rely on trusted sources for updated information about COVID-19 and its public impact: Mississippi Department of Health, msdh.ms.gov; the Mississippi Coronavirus Hotline, which is available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mondays through Fridays at (877) 978-6453; the State of Mississippi, website, www.ms.gov; and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cdc.gov.

What citizens can do

Stay home if you are sick, and avoid close contact with anyone who is ill.

Cover your coughs and sneezes. When possible, cough, sneeze or blow your nose into a tissue, and throw the tissue away,

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly, especially after coughing or sneezing, blowing your nose, and using the bathroom. Effective handwashing takes about 20 seconds and includes cleaning under fingernails, between fingers, and washing the back of hands as well as the front.

Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that are touched often.

Stay in good overall health by eating right and staying active.

If you are sick, especially with shortness of breath, cough, fever or similar flu-like symptoms, call a doctor or healthcare provider.

Should you have questions or concerns please call Town Hall at 651-4411

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