Pontotoc County Emergency Management Director Ricky Jaggers told the Pontotoc county Board of supervisors in an emergency meeting Monday morning March 23 that the county response just changed with the first reported case of COVID-19 in Pontotoc on Sunday.
“We have to figure out exactly what we need to do,” Jaggers said. “People can’t go on with life as normal. The only way we are going to break this is isolation. I looked at Huddle House the other day and it was business as usual.
“We have to keep asking people to stay home for the 15 day period. These numbers will go up. People will die. People we know will die,” he said emphatically. “The more lax you are the longer we will fight it. There is not an easy way to deal with it. It would be good if all the counties and cities and towns adopt similar guidelines so ti will be easier on the law enforcement.”
Board President Wayne Stokes said the board needs “to do something.”
Supervisor Ernie Wright said he’d rather “be criticized for being too stiff than not stiff enough.”
Wright also said he would like to see a place where the health department is testing people in our county.
“Here again, not everyone needs a test,” Jaggers said. “Only if you are showing symptoms do you need a test. Isolation is the key.”
Jaggers said the supply pipeline has opened up somewhat from the Federal Government. It was only last Monday that the Mississippi Department of Health issued what the guidelines were for allocating the protective equipment and on Thursday, March 19, Vice-President Mike Pence tasked Emergency Management with the distribution of the items.
Emergency Managers in each county responsible for the allocation in their county.
“All I have been able to get right now are the N95 face masks,” he noted. “We are working with the state EMA, on getting supplies, but the health department is running the incidence command.”
In other words the Health Department is putting out the recommendations in the matter.
The priorities for requesting resources for the COVID-19 comes in tiers, that means there is a priority on where the things are distributed to first.
Tier 1 includes Long Term care facilities with confirmed cases, hospitals with the greatest number of confined cases, EMS and first responders who are being asked to transport confirmed cases, and healthcare workers carrying out support to long term care facilities with confirmed cases.
Tier 2 includes health care facilities with confirmed cases, congregate locations with confirmed cases (such as correctional facilities, shelters or dorms). Quarantine/Isolation facilities run by the Mississippi State Department of Health and other EMS, fire departments providing non transport emergency medical response, law enforcement agencies and emergency management agencies in a county with no known COVID-19 cases identified.
Tier three includes quarantine isolation facilities run by other jurisdiction, skilled nursing facilities, home health agencies and other healthcare facilities, outpatient facilities.
Tier four includes congregate locations such as jails, homeless shelters and families of confirmed cases who are at home.
“We have one place we are getting supplies and if you are wanting something it has to be ordered through me,” he noted. Jagger’s phone number is 662-419-1105 which is the way to get him for ordering.
“But when you call, be specific about what you need and make the order reasonable,” he stressed. Although masks are the only thing available right now, other things such as gloves should follow.
Jaggers also told the supervisors that Pontotoc County has also been cleared to get small business loans. “I’ve had three businesses to show interest in getting one, but if you are a small business please contact me and we can get you and application as well.”