djr-2020-03-13-news-tupelo-presser-twp3

Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton and City Council members discuss the local response to the COVID-19 pandemic in this file photo.

TUPELO • Mayor Jason Shelton will testify Wednesday at a hearing of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security, which will convene to examine the national response to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The Homeland Security committee in the U.S. House is chaired by U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat from the state’s second congressional district. Shelton is the only witness from Mississippi set to testify at the hearing.

Other witnesses scheduled to speak include the Alabama Emergency Management Agency Director Brian Hastings, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the executive director of the Texas Public Health agency in Harris County, Dr. Umair Shah.

Thompson has been critical of how President Donald Trump’s administration has handled its response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In a written statement about the scheduled hearing, Thompson said he hopes to examine how state and local governments have shouldered much of the work to handle a medical crisis that continues to unfold and has notably worsened again in recent weeks.

“This hearing will allow us to hear from a diverse panel of state and local leaders first-hand about how the coronavirus has affected their communities and how the Administration’s response efforts – or lack thereof – have impacted them,” Thompson said.

Shelton will provide his testimony at the hearing remotely, with plans to speak from a conference room at City Hall.

Under the second-term Democratic mayor, Tupelo was among the first cities in the state under a shelter-in-place order. He has also now ordered that face coverings be worn in places where the public gathers.

After he signed that order, Shelton defended it in a Facebook post that went viral online.

“Please listen to our health care professionals regarding covid-19. My job as mayor is to do my best to keep our community safe, not make easy or politically popular decisions,” Shelton said. “As we have said from the beginning, we will follow the advice of our health care professionals and we will continue to do so.”

caleb.bedillion@journalinc.com

Twitter: @CalebBedillion

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