RIPLEY • As Mississippi’s number of COVID-19 cases significantly increased on Friday, Gov. Tate Reeves and State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs urged First Monday Trade Days to reconsider its May market, which is set to begin today.
Reeves and Dobbs were asked by the Daily Journal during Friday’s press conference whether the state officials think it’s a good idea to move forward with the flea market in light of Friday’s increase in cases.
Dobbs shook his head and said “Please don’t. You know, Tippah County has a lot of cases. This is not going anywhere and I can think of few better ways to spread it than a bunch of strangers coming together in close proximity and exchanging things by hand.”
While the market is allowed to open within the confines of the governor’s executive order, Dobbs urged the owners to consider canceling and asked potential attendees to stay home. “It’s really a bad public health idea,” Dobbs said.
“The complacency I find breathtaking among some folks, just to be quite honest. And don’t be surprised if we have a rebound in cases and have to reverse course if people are not willing to do the simple things that are requested at this time that also give some enhanced freedoms,” Dobbs said.
Earlier this week, operators of First Monday indicated that due to the size of the facility, it would be possible for patrons to exercise social distancing and avoid mass gatherings. Management of First Monday confirmed that they plan to take all precautions to comply with CDC guidelines including closing the Trader’s Inn Restaurant located on the property.
“All staff will be wearing masks, and we have asked the vendors to please wear a mask and to use hand sanitizer. Don’t let people in your booth, don’t let people pick up things, and put items in bags for customers,” said First Monday Vice President Allison Windham.
The flea market has ordered hand sanitizer from Cathead Distillery out of Jackson, and staff members who typically work in the restaurant will be walking the aisles dispensing the sanitizer to those who need it.
The Tippah County Board of Supervisors stated that Tippah County was following the guidelines issued by the governor including his plan to reopen the state’s businesses. County officials confirmed that as long as any business in Tippah County is in compliance with the Governor’s Executive Order, the business is welcome to open.
“The Board of Supervisors has not been asked to intervene or create an order to stop First Monday Trade Days from operating this weekend. If the governor wants us to act, we will certainly discuss it.”
On Friday, the Mississippi State Department of Health reported that 397 new people are presumed to have tested positive for the virus, and 20 people have died from complications related to the virus. Friday was the state’s largest single-day increase of COVID-19 cases to date.
According to the health department data, 56 total people in Tippah County have tested positive for the virus and 10 people have died from complications related to the virus. Of those 10 total deaths, three were reported on Friday.