No local closures yet as Coronavirus creeps closer

Published 1:11 pm Thursday, March 12, 2020

City, county, and school officials in Panola County are grappling with decisions about public meetings, school attendance, and other gatherings as the threat of Coronavirus infections creeps closer.


Beginning Wednesday, federal and state agencies began making decisions to close, or severely limit, public gatherings as the health crisis that started in China three months ago finally reached the rural parts of Mississippi.

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The Southeastern Conference, of which both Ole Miss and Mississippi State are members, cancelled the season’s popular Spring Break tournament and changed the attendance policy for other sporting events to include just a few select family members and support staff.


On Thursday, the SEC went a step further and postponed all SEC events until March 30, and along with all eight of the state’s public colleges and universities, extended Spring Break for a week. After next week, college students are expected to continue their studies for the semester in an e-learning format although details of those plans have not yet been released.


In Batesville, no churches have yet reported that Sunday services will be cancelled this weekend. Bro. Tommy Snyder, pastor of First Baptist Church, sent an email to parishioners Thursday outlining the church’s plan for prevention of infection spread at church services, reminding the congregation that the ongoing situation provides an avenue of service.


Panola Medical Center is working on a media release, and will make a public announcement about the hospital’s preparation for dealing with the outbreak later Thursday, according to COO Chris Ware.


As of noon Thursday, officials at South Panola, North Panola, or North Delta schools have not made public any plans they have for extending Spring Break another week. Many students traveled with their families out of town and state during the break, including the baseball and softball teams of South Panola High School that traveled to the Gulf Coast for tournaments.


The Panola County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to meet again Monday, March 23. The Batesville Mayor and Board of Aldermen is scheduled to meet Tuesday, March 17.


The South Panola Schools board of trustees also has a March 17 meeting slated. The Panola Partnership’s annual dinner and member update is also set for March 17, and director Joe Azar confirmed Thursday the banquet is still on, but will be shortened and have much less person-to-person contact as normal meetings.


The Sheriff’s Department has not released any plans for changing the way jail prisoners are handled, but all county departments are in close contact with the office of Emergency Management and director Daniel Cole.


The Panolian will continue to monitor the latest decisions concerning the Coronavirus locally, and make updated posts when warranted.