Questions about Supervisors’ new resolution detailed

Published 11:33 am Monday, March 23, 2020

Panola County Sheriff Shane Phelps reads over the resolution his deputies are delivering to businesses in the county today. Board Attorney Gaines Baker met with the Board of Supervisors at the Batesville Courthouse this morning to recommend they adopt a resolution modeled on a “Stay at Home” policy embraced by the leaders of the City of Oxford in a special meeting Sunday. The Batesville Mayor and Board of Aldermen met this morning, but did not adopt a similar measure.



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The Panola County Board of Supervisors, at a special meeting on Monday, March 23, adopted a Resolution to follow up the Mandate they issued on Saturday, March 21. In that Mandate, the supervisors essentially made the same declarations they issued on Saturday – limiting access to businesses and organizations inside Panola County but outside any of the municipalities it compasses, including the City of Batesville, and the Towns of Pope, Courtland, Crenshaw, Sardis, and Como.

At Monday’s meeting, Board Attorney Gaines Baker distributed a FAQ that explains the supervisors’ action and what is permissible and allowed when the resolution goes into effect at midnight tonight.

The following answers most questions. Other situations not covered will be dealt with on a per incident basis. The county supervisors are requesting that all citizens stay at home except for essential needs. The intent of this order is to ensure the maximum number of people self-isolate in their places of residence to the maximum extent feasible.

Vulnerable populations including the elderly and those with underlying health conditions must stay at home. All community members should stay at home except to perform essential duties for business continuity or government functions, to get food, care for a relative or friend, get necessary health care, or perform activities related to maintaining a healthy lifestyle during this time.

It is OK to go outside for walks if you are not in a group and practice proper social distancing. This order is in effect until at least April 6. It may be extended depending on recommendations from public health officials.

Sheriff Shane Phelps left the Batesville Courthouse with a stack of the FAQs to distribute to restaurants and businesses in the county.


Why are we doing this?

This is a critical intervention to reduce harm from the spread of COVID-19 in our community. This is a mandatory order enforceable by a fine or jail. Now is the time to do everything we can to prevent the situation from getting much worse in a matter of days or weeks. Every hour counts. We need and appreciate the cooperation of everyone who lives and works in Panola County to act immediately. While this news may feel alarming, it is a necessary step to prevent a worsening situation. The patterns of the virus around the world, and in our own state, tell us that moving right now to maximize social distancing and restrict people gathering is the best way to fight the virus and save lives. If everyone works together, we should be able to adjust to the new rules over the next few weeks. We know that there will be a lot of questions and concerns at the beginning of this new regimen. This is a major change being taken to protect public health. Please be patient and kind to one another. Together, we will get through this, and our community’s health will be protected.

What can I do? What is open? These essential services may remain open:

  • City/County government services: police stations, fire stations, garbage/sanitation, utilities (water and power)
  • Gas stations
  • Pharmacies and drug stores
  • Food: Grocery stores, farmers markets, food banks, convenience stores, restaurants offering curb-side pick-up and delivery only o Hospitals/clinics and other healthcare operations (Nursing homes and assisted living facilities)
  • Hardware stores and businesses providing necessary services to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences (plumbers, electricians, landscapers, HVAC services)
  • Banks
  • Community benefit organizations on a case-by-case basis (Interfaith Compassion Ministries, United Way, Salvation Army, Red Cross, Communicare, etc.)
  • Laundromats/laundry services o Veterinarian offices
  • Professional Services which service essential companies and individuals (accountants, attorneys, engineers, architects, etc.)
  • Security companies
  • Automobile Repair Shops
  • Pest Control Services
  • Cemeteries


  • What are Essential Businesses & Operations?
  • Healthcare and Public Health Operations: Working at or obtaining services from hospitals; clinics; dental offices; pharmacies; public health entities; healthcare manufacturers and suppliers; blood banks; reproductive health care providers; eye care centers; home healthcare services providers; mental health and substance abuse providers; ancillary healthcare services — including veterinary care and excluding fitness and exercise gyms, spas, salons, barbershops, tattoo parlors, and similar facilities
  • Human Services Operations: any provider funded by DHS, DCFS or Medicaid; long-term care facilities; home-based and residential settings for adults, seniors, children, and/or people with disabilities or mental illness; transitional facilities; field offices for food, cash assistance, medical coverage, child care, vocational services or rehabilitation services; developmental centers; adoption agencies; businesses that provide food, shelter, and social services and other necessities of life for needy individuals — excluding group day care homes.
  • Essential Infrastructure: Working in food production, distribution and sale; building management and maintenance; airport operations; insurance companies, operation and maintenance of utilities, including water, sewer, and gas; electrical; distribution centers; roads, highways, and public transportation; cybersecurity operations; flood control; solid waste and recycling collection and removal; and internet, video, and telecommunications systems o Construction: If working outside can keep social distancing and 10 or less rule. If inside keep staffing to a minimum and respect social distancing o Stores that sell groceries and medicine
  • Food and beverage (curb side pick-up or delivery ONLY), liquor stores (curb side pick-up ONLY)
  • Organizations that provide charitable and social services
  • Media
  • Gas stations and businesses needed for transportation o Financial institutions
  • Hardware and building supply stores
  • Critical trades, including plumbers, electricians, exterminators, cleaning and janitorial staff for commercial and governmental properties, security staff, operating engineers, HVAC, painting, moving and relocation services, auto repair shops, and other service providers that maintain the safety, sanitation and essential operation of residences, Essential Activities, and Essential Businesses and Operations
  • Mail, post, shipping, logistics, delivery, and pick-up services
  • Educational institutions, for purposes of facilitating distance learning, performing critical research, or performing essential functions. Schools can still provide “togo” food for their students
  • Laundry services o Lawn care companies o Restaurants for consumption off-premises o Supplies to work from home o Supplies for essential businesses and operations
  • Transportation for purposes of essential travel
  • Home-based care and services o Residential facilities and shelters
  • Professional services
  • Day care centers for employees exempted by this Executive Order
  • Manufacture, distribution, and supply chain for critical products and industries
  • Hotels and motels, to the extent used for lodging and delivery or carry-out food services How long will we stay home? This goes into effect immediately. It is currently set to last for 15 days until Monday, April 6. We want to be sure the Order is in place for only as long as necessary, and will be closely monitoring the situation every day in order to determine what adjustments make sense.
  • What is closed?
  • Dine-in restaurants
  • Bars and nightclubs
  • Entertainment venues
  • Bowling alleys and theatres
  • Recreational facilities
  • Tattoo parlors o Barbershops
  • Hair/Nail/Beauty/Tanning salons
  • Spas
  • Convention centers o Community centers
  • Parks except for walking trails
  •  Shopping Centers
  • Retail stores EXCEPT where curb side pick-up or delivery is available
  • Gyms and fitness studios What shouldn’t I do?
  • You should not engage in group activities in person with others.
  • You should not have dinner parties. You should not invite friends over to your home to hang out.
  • You cannot go to bars or nightclubs.
  • You cannot go to a nail salon or get your hair cut by a stylist or barber.
  • You cannot go shopping for non-essential goods.
  • You cannot take unnecessary trips on public transportation. Is this mandatory or is it just guidance? It is mandatory. You are required to comply, and it is a misdemeanor crime not to follow the order (although the intent is not for anyone to get into trouble). It is critical for everyone to follow the Order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect themselves, their loved ones, friends, neighbors and the whole community. All persons, businesses, and other entities are required to comply if they do not fall within the exemptions that are specified in the Order.
  • Where does this apply?  This is in effect for all of Panola County except those areas that are inside cities and towns.
  • What if I need to get healthcare from my medical provider? You can still get your health needs addressed. Contact your health care provider to see if they are providing regular services. Some services, especially elective procedures, may be postponed or canceled. If you are feeling sick, please first call your doctor, a nurse hotline, or an urgent care center. Do not go to the emergency room of a hospital unless you are having an actual emergency. Mississippi Coronavirus Hotline is available 24/7: 877-978-6453
  • Can I leave home to visit friends or family members if there is no urgent need? No. For your safety as well as their safety, we need to help each other fight the spread of COVID-19 by staying at home.
  • Can I still get deliveries from online stores? Can I order from online stores? Yes. The mail and other delivery services to your home can continue to function, as can food delivery services. Yes, you can place more orders from online stores. Businesses that deliver goods or services directly to residences are essential businesses that may continue to operate.
  • Can I use ride share or on-demand service or a taxi? Yes, but only for essential travel. Do your best to take social distancing precautions: cover your mouth and nose if you cough or sneeze, use hand sanitizer and wash your hands before and after rides, etc.
  •  Can I get my prescriptions or other health care needs? Can I leave home to go to the pharmacy? Yes. Drug stores and other medical supply stores can operate. When possible, you should have the drug store deliver your prescription medicine to your home.
  • How will I get food and medicines I need if I must stay in my home? The Order specifically allows people to leave their home to buy food, purchase medicine, and purchase other necessary items. It also directs businesses selling those items to remain open and allows employees of those businesses to keep working and to ensure those businesses are operating.
  • Should I stock up on food, necessities like toilet paper and on medicines? No. You will continue to be able to purchase these items whenever you need them, as stores selling necessary items like grocery stores, pharmacies, and hardware stores will remain open. Continue to buy normal quantities of these items on the same schedule you normally do. This will ensure that there is enough for everyone.
  • Can I leave home to care for my elderly parents or friends who require assistance to care for themselves? Yes. Be sure that you protect them and you by following social distancing guidelines such as washing hands before and after, using hand sanitizer, maintaining at least 6 feet of distance when possible, and coughing or sneezing into a tissue.
  • Can I visit loved ones in the hospital, nursing home, skilled nursing facility or other residential care facility? Generally no. It is strongly recommended that you do not go to a hospital unless you are seeking emergency medical attention or accompanying a minor who is under 18 years old or someone who is developmentally disabled and needs assistance. Please use alternative ways to communicate with loved ones at nursing homes and residential care facilities. Like facetime and texting. The residents at those locations are the most vulnerable to COVID-19. If you need to know more, please contact the facility you want to visit by phone before you leave. Maintaining stringent social distancing is difficult, but it is necessary in order to protect hospital staff and other patients.
  • What if I can’t get out of the home? How can I get supplies and food? Please contact friends, family, or others you know who can provide support. They are permitted to pick up any of your needs.
  • What about childcare and preschool?
  • Must be carried out in stable groups of 10 or fewer each day
  • No interchanging of groups of children if more than one group is at a facility, then each group must be in a separate room (no mixing of groups)
  • Each provider must stay with only one group and not change
  • Can I go buy pet food or take my pet to the vet? Yes
  • I receive mental health treatment, can I still go to their office? We recommend calling your mental health office to inquire about their policies and their hours of operation throughout this Order.
  • Can I go for a walk in my neighborhood? Yes, but perform social distancing.
  • Do I have to perform social distancing at home with my family? No.
  • What happens if I don’t comply with this order? We are focused on voluntary compliance. Our community has been tremendous in doing so thus far.
  • Can I still go to church, synagogue or mosque? No. Places of worship have not been exempted as essential activities under the order. Places of worship can still provide services listed in the order as essential such as food banks and funerals.
  • What about if I need medical care? Hospitals and medical facilities are exempted from the Order. You are free to go there and get medical attention.
  • I own a business, what am I supposed to do? If you don’t fall within an exception, besides performing basic minimum functions, you need to close.
  • Is there relief for small business? There is effort on the federal level to grant relief to small businesses. There is also effort on the state level: How do I prove that I am allowed to be outside? The order contemplates that citizens will adhere to their civic duty and follow the order for the greater good of the community and comply with the order. At this time there is no requirement of proof that you are allowed to be outside your residence.
  • What if I work in a different county that is not implementing this type of order? Travel to and from Panola is allowed for purposes of performing essential life functions. If you work in a county that is not implementing similar restrictions and are required to go for work, please practice strong hygiene and social distancing while at work and comply with the order while in Panola County.
  • I am an Uber/Lyft driver, can I still work? Yes, when providing rides for essential activities or providing rides to people performing essential government functions, essential infrastructure or essential business.
  • I operate a grocery store, I am worried about people hoarding and too many people in the store at once, what do you recommend? We recommend (but do not require) the following:  Increase security, Limit the amount of people in the store at once, Implement an organized line system where people are spaced at least a few feet apart (ideally 6 feet), Extend hours, Offer pick up or deliveries of grocery items ,Increase the frequency and intensity of cleaning
  • My child is away at college, can I go pick them up and return home? Yes.
  • Will cemeteries remain open? Yes, they can continue to employ people and maintain operations. We consider cemeteries an essential infrastructure. However, please implement social distancing. I don’t have a washer/dryer in my home.
  • Can I leave to do laundry? Yes, you can go to a laundromat and other laundry service providers.
  • I am homeless. How can I comply with the order? People who are experiencing homelessness are encouraged to try to stay with family or friends, identify housing options, or access emergency resources such as shelter. Project THRIVE offers assistance to people experiencing homelessness and can be reached at 662-816-2146. The closest shelters are The Salvation Army in Tupelo and Memphis Union Mission in Memphis.