Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Currently, there are 30 confirmed cases of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Forrest County, Mississippi. There are 9 confirmed cases of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Lamar County, Mississippi. [see more]

A Shelter-in-Place order per Governor Tate Reeves Order No.1466 will go into effect April 3, 2020 at 5 p.m. and will last until April 20, 2020 at 8 a.m. To download our PDF that walks you through what you can and cannot do while under a shelter-in-place, click here.







For all media inquiries, please contact 601-447-5950 (text for best response) or email



If you have questions or need additional information about coronavirus and Mississippi, the information below will provide you with a hotline dedicated to COVID-19.

COVID-19 Hotline: 877-978-6453
Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.


In response to COVID-19 in Hattiesburg, Mayor Toby Barker has issued several executive orders to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. Below are each in PDF format.  




04/03/2020 | Daily Update

This week, Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves issued a shelter-in-place order to take effect today, Friday, April 3 at 5 p.m.

This order will begin today and last through 8 a.m. on Monday, April 20, 2020 (unless rescinded, modified or extended).

To understand what the order means and how it will affect Hattiesburg, see the front and back FAQ we’ve provided at

This order is enforceable by law, and both Hattiesburg Police Department (Official) and our neighboring agencies are prepared to respond during this public health crisis.

At this time, the City of Hattiesburg has not ordered a curfew. However, it is important that all only do what is essential, go home and then stay home.

04/02/2020 | Daily Update

Today’s update includes more clarification regarding the Shelter-in-Place Order issued by Governor Tate Reeves and a note about the water billing office.
1. Shelter-in-Place Order
Many have asked questions regarding essential/non-essential work, travel and more. Those questions are still welcomed, but here are a few additional clarifications:
The City of Hattiesburg is not under a curfew.
While the Shelter-in-Place order will go into effect at 5 p.m. on Friday, April 3 – this does not mean the city is under a curfew. The City will first implement the shelter-in-place order as is, but further action will be evaluated based on the response of the order and what Hattiesburg Police Department sees on the ground, particularly at night.
You do not need travel IDs or documents for essential needs.
While Governor Reeves’ order will be enforced, there will not be checkpoints and a need for a badge/paperwork to determine essential business travel — at this time.
If residents are only doing what is essential, there should be no issue.
If residents still have questions for what is essential and what is not, all are encouraged to reach out at
2. Water Billing Office

The Water Billing lobby is still closed in-person visits. The drive-thru is available to conduct business for your water account, but you have several options you can use:

  • If you are paying your bill by VISA or MasterCard you can call 601-545-4634 to process payment (no additional charges or fees) or visit
  • If you are setting up a new account, you can call 601-545-4634.
  • If you are reporting a water leak or issue with your bill, you can call 601-545-4631 or submit an action line ticket at
  • If you are closing a current account, you can call 601-545-4634.
  • If you are paying with cash or check, you can do so in the drive-thru.

04/01/2020 | Shelter-in-Place Order

This afternoon, Governor Tate Reeves issued a Shelter in Place Order (Executive Order No. 1466). We realize that it may present a lot of questions; so we’ve broken it down for you below. Should your question not be answered here, please feel free to ask and we’ll do our best to answer.
It’s an order – in this instance from Governor Tate Reeves – that orders that you stay at home unless you are going out for an essential need.
The good news is that this order reinforces what so much of our community is already doing, but it also provides for several additional guidelines, and we’ll walk through what you can do and what you cannot do under a shelter in place
However, the main differences here are:
  • This order does close nonessential businesses and non-profit entities, except for what are called minimum operations. Minimum operations are activities necessary for the business or operation to maintain the condition of facilities, equipment and also back-office operations such as inventory or payroll; and whatever is necessary to continue working remotely from home.
  • This does mean that nonessential retail stores must close. In our most recent order last week, we allowed for access by appointment or by the curbside. This changes that. If you are not essential retail – that means if you are not a grocery store, food/beverage store, convenience store, pharmacies, hardware and building material store, gas station or restaurant doing carryout, pick up or delivery – if you are not one of those, you must cease operations.
  • This “shelter in place order” from Governor Reeves also closes salons and barbershops.
  • Another difference – one that we welcome – is that all evictions are suspended until the shelter in place order is over. Governor Reeves has that power, and he is using it to keep people in their homes during this time. However, you are still on the hook for your rent or your mortgage. And as we talked about yesterday, we encourage everyone – landlord, tenant, bank – to do right by one another and by our city.
  • This order also sets some limits on recreation. Using our many walking trails – that is permitted. Group recreation, such as softball games and pickup basketball games, will not be permitted. We will be working with our Parks & Rec department on interpreting and implementing this new rule.
5 p.m. on Friday, April 3, 2020 – 8 a.m. on Monday, April 20, 2020 – unless rescinded, modified or extended.
Yes. By local authority, all provisions within the governor’s executive order and the previous executive orders by Mayor Barker will be enforced by the Hattiesburg Police Department and the Hattiesburg Fire Department. See all documents at
For those not in compliance, business names can be emailed to or call 601-545-4501.
  • Go to work at any business that is not deemed essential.
  • Anything that is deemed non-essential (leisure shopping, group recreation, attending church, etc.)
  • Visit with friends and family (while social distancing is encouraged in groups of 10 or fewer, it is not an excuse to bypass the gatherings rules).
  • Don’t visit loved ones in the hospital or those who may have compromised immune systems.
  • Non-essential businesses. Per the governor’s order, this includes any business/industry not listed per the Governor’s Executive Order 1463. This order does clarify that the following businesses are not essential: fitness and gyms, dance studios, clubs, tattoo parlors, spas, salons, barbershops and other similar personal care and grooming facilities.
  • While walking trails are still available for use, all places of amusement and recreation, whether indoors or outdoors, including but not limited to amusement parks and rides, museums, playgrounds, children’s party and play facilities, all parks including all beaches, lakes and reservoirs, movie theaters, bowling alleys and social clubs are closed.
  • Engaging in activities that are necessary to healthy and safety of yourself, those living in your household (including pets) or those who are unable to or should not leave their home. This includes groceries and supplies that are needed to maintain the safety’s sanitation and essential operation of a home.
  • Engaging in individual outdoor activity and recreation – without going to parks or the places of recreation that were included in the non-essential closures list.
  • Going to a job that is deemed as an essential business or operations (defined by the Governor’s Executive Order No. 1463 ( or by CISA (
  • Traveling to care for the elderly, minors, dependents, a person with disabilities, or other vulnerable individuals.
  • Traveling to or from education institutions, public and private k-12 schools, colleges and universities and other educational institutions for the purpose of receiving materials for distance learning, receiving meals and other related purposes.
  • Traveling to or from home.
  • Travel required by law or court order, including to transport children per custody agreements.
  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Maintain social distance (minimum of 6ft from others who do not live inside your home).
  • Wear gloves or a mask if you have one.


03/31/2020 | CARES Act – Stimulus Payments

The city’s administrative team is putting together several resources that provides residents with more information regarding the impact of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Today’s update addresses a primary component of concern  – Economic Impact Payments.

Economic Impact Payments are one-time payments, also referred to as stimulus payments. According to the IRS and Treasury Department, those payments will begin within the next three weeks for most people without any extra actions needed. Below is a list of FAQs put together to address questions and concerns from citizens regarding EIPs.

Will I receive a payment?

  • If you file taxes as an individual or jointly as a couple, you will receive payment.
  • If you aren’t required to file a tax return (low-income taxpayers, senior citizens, social security recipients, some veterans and individuals with disabilities), a simple tax form collecting basic identifiable information will be required before the payment is processed. This form will be available at in the coming weeks.
  • If you are a student AND are claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return, you will not receive payment.

    How much is the payment?

Depending on your tax-filing status (as an individual or joint) and the number of dependents, the amount will vary.

  • For individuals with less than $75,000 in gross income, you will receive a one-time payment of $1,200.
  • For couples who file jointly with less than $150,000 in gross income, you will receive a one-time payment of $2,400.
  • Parents will also receive $500 for each qualifying child.

NOTE: for individuals with income levels above the $75,000 and $150,000 amounts, the payment amount is reduced by $5 for each $100 above those thresholds. Individuals/joint filers with income exceeding $99,000/$198,000 without children are not eligible.

How will I get the one-time payment and where will it come from?

These payments will come from the Treasury Department and the IRS (Internal Revenue Service). They will use filing data from 2018 and 2019 tax returns.

What do I need to do to make sure I receive my payment?

According to the IRS, the vast majority of people will not need to take any action. The IRS will calculate and automatically send these payments to those who are eligible.

  • For those who have filed tax returns for 2018 or 2019, the IRS will use this information to calculate the payment and it will be deposited directly into the same banking account reflected on the return that was filed.
  • For those who aren’t required to file a tax return (low-income taxpayers, senior citizens, social security recipients, some veterans and individuals with disabilities), a simple tax form will be available at with information on how to file so that you can receive payment.

NOTE: The process for filing simple tax forms is not complete at the moment. We will provide information for when it is.

I am positive the IRS doesn’t have the most up-to-date information to do a direct deposit for my payment. What can I do?

The IRS is working on a web-based portal for individuals to provide their banking information so that those payments can be processed. This portal is not available yet, but we will provide information when it is.

How long are the economic impact payments available?

If you are currently working on your taxes or need support from a tax professional or local organization, you have time to do that. These payments will be available throughout the end of 2020.

When will I get my payment?

The Treasury Department and the IRS announced on Monday, March 30 that payments will begin within the next three weeks. Some seniors and others who typically do not file returns will need to submit a simple tax return to receive their payments – and that may take extra time.

03/30/2020 | Positive Employee Test & Video Update

Today’s update includes notice regarding a City of Hattiesburg employee testing positive for COVID-19, two requests to students and the housing community from Mayor Barker and a public meeting transition for the Planning Commission.

Employee Tests Positive

Over the weekend, the City of Hattiesburg’s administrative team learned that an employee in Public Works tested positive for COVID-19.  The individual is currently hospitalized and has not been at work since Monday, March 23.

All employees in the employee’s division have been notified of the presumptive positive test. In an abundance of caution, the city will schedule a COVID-19 test for each employee in that division. The city will also continue to run daily screens for temperatures and symptoms of division employees at the beginning and end of each shift.

To learn more about this situation and for the city’s response, click here.

Video Update from Mayor Barker

Earlier on Monday, Barker also released a video update that included two requests for students returning from spring break travel and to landlords and property managers.

They include:

  • Self-quarantine of at least 14-days for all students who traveled out of state for spring break and who are returning home to Hattiesburg.
  • All landlords and property management companies to suspend physical evictions for 35-40 days due to the current hardships faced by many who were are unemployed due to COVID-19 and who are currently in the process of claiming unemployment benefits.

While not executive orders, Barker states the following:

“As mayor, my authority to suspend evictions is limited. But, I do have a voice. Today, I’m using it to call on us to remember that there are certain values we all share: compassion, love of neighbor and a belief in doing the right thing. Continue to stay home. If you’re back from spring break, really stay home. And if you’re a landlord, work it out so people can stay home.”

For the full video:


Planning Commission Meeting for April 1, 2020

An additional update for the City of Hattiesburg includes a transition from an in-person public meeting to a teleconference for April’s Planning Commission meeting. Scheduled for April 1, 2020 at 1 p.m., the meeting will be available for virtual access via the following details:

For all details related to Hattiesburg’s response to COVID-19, visit

03/29/2020 | Daily Update

Today’s update includes final numbers from the mask drive-thru and drop-off event, educational resources and reminders and COVID-19 resources. See them below.

Mask Donations Drive
Collectively, Hattiesburg’s health care community, first responders and essential services will benefit from a little more than 1,200 masks and several large boxes of gloves that were donated during this three-day event. These donations came from individuals who found boxes in their own storage sheds and also from dentists, museum curators and more.
With the realization that there will continue to be a need, mask donors can call the Mayor’s Office at 601-545-4501 to coordinate a drop-off for distribution. 
Virtual smART Space Classes
Hattiesburg’s own Abigail Lenz Allen will be back at the Community Arts Center on Monday at 9 a.m. for a HAC Smart Space Stretch & Movement class, followed by Art at 9:30 a.m. This will be streamed from the Hattiesburg Parks & Recreation page and will take place every Monday/Wednesday/Friday – indefinitely. These videos will also be housed on the K-12 resources page at
If parents and caretakers need a block in distance learning routines for stretching/movement/chance to be silly and art, these classes can be used as a resource for this time. 
COVID-19 Cases and Resources
As of today, Forrest County has 19 cases and Lamar County has 4 cases. Many tests are still pending, with cases counts expected to have a continued increase. To keep track of cases in the Hattiesburg area and across the state, all can visit To track the numbers for the Forrest General Hospital/Forrest Health System, visit While there is a lot of commentary, news articles and opinions about COVID-19 circulation, the City encourages its residents to seek and share only resources that are validated. 
Going into another week of uncertainty where COVID-19 is concerned, residents are encouraged to only do what is essential – and then go home. Mayor Toby Barker reiterates this message in the latest edition of the The PineBelt News. It can be found below. 

Below is a list of releases, by date/topic since Hattiesburg began responding to COVID-19.

03/28/2020 |

Today’s update includes info about the Hattiesburg Mask Drive-Thru & Drop-Off, curbside testing and broadcast services.

Mask Donations

Today is the last day for the mask donation drive at Jackie Dole Sherrill Community Center, from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. All unused masks are accepted. We encourage everyone to check storage units and sheds for masks that may have been purchased prior to now for home renovations, yard work or woodwork. Hand-sewn masks are also accepted.

After today, mask donations can be coordinated through the mayor’s office by calling 601-545-4501.

Curbside Testing

The Cough & Fever Clinic, a service of Forrest General Hospital and Hattiesburg Clinic, is offering curbside COVID-19 testing. Curbside testing is by appointment only and must be scheduled through

Church Services

To help our community stay at home and still experience faith-based services, many churches are streaming their services via Facebook Live, YouTube or websites. A list can be accessed at

03/27/2020 |

Here is what is what you need to know for Friday going into the weekend.

Support Local
There are several ways you can continue to support local businesses and restaurants – while still social distancing. Here’s how:

  • Grab pick-up from a local restaurant for dinner tonight (and then go home). See the full list at
  • Do you have a favorite barista, bartender or service industry wait staffer? Thanks to the coordination of Hattiesburg Jaycees, a virtual tip jar list is being maintained at If you pour yourself a glass of water, tea or your favorite beverage tonight – consider also passing along a tip to your favorite service industry staffer.
  • Consider grabbing a shirt from This effort, coordinated by Roy Windham with The Porter and Jason Spiers at JMH Graphics, will go to sustainably supporting our service industry employees who have been affected by COVID-19.

Mask Donation Drive

More than 400 masks and 2,000 gloves were collected during today’s setup for the Hattiesburg Mask Drive-Thru & Drop-Off. These will be shared with Hattiesburg’s health care partners, first responders and essential services.

The last day of collection will be Saturday, March 28 from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. All unused masks are welcome.

Hattiesburg Arts Council smART Space Virtual Classes

If you need a moment to stretch and wiggle about with your littles while at home, we highly recommend visiting the Hattiesburg Parks & Recreation Facebook Page to see this morning’s videos.

Abigail Lenz Allen will be back at the Community Arts Center on Monday/Wednesday/Friday for additional classes during this time. 9 a.m. for stretch and movement; 9:30 a.m. for art. If you are building a curriculum-based schedule for distance learning at home, this is a great opportunity to include movement and art into the schedule.

Thanks to Hattiesburg Arts CouncilHAC Smart Space, Forrest County, and Mississippi Arts Commission and the Pinebelt Foundation‘s Ann Morris Memorial Fund for helping make the virtual classes possible.

Public Meetings
While we continue to evolve and adapt for public meetings, below is information regarding Community Development and a previously-scheduled public meeting for Monday, March 30, 2020.

The City of Hattiesburg is hosting a Public Hearing on March 30, 2020 at 5:30 p.m. to receive public comments related to the published draft Consolidated Annual Performance and Evaluation Report (CAPER). The CAPER describes how CDBG and HOME funding was expended and applied to activities during calendar year 2019 as well as community development efforts in general.

While it is required that we host this public hearing, due to ongoing health concerns with COVID-19, we strongly encourage citizens with comments to provide those comments by email to or by phone to 601-545-4558 no later than 5:00 p.m. on March 30, 2020 rather than attending the public hearing. The public hearing will NOT involve a presentation and is only an additional opportunity for public comment. The draft document is available at and we are glad to answer any questions you may have. Please also note that though we will still host this public hearing, we will make every effort to ensure that the total attendance is fewer than 10 individuals at a time, and we will employ appropriate spacing according to CDC guidelines.

03/26/2020 – PM |

Mask Donation Drive
Donations collected on Thursday included 175 masks and 17 boxes of gloves. The event will continue at Jackie Dole Sherrill Community Center on Friday and Saturday, from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Q: Can it be any mask?
A: Yes. N95s are what is most needed, but we’ll take whatever you want to donate. If you have access to basic medical masks, masks used during home renovations or lawn care, or hand-made – bring them over.

Q. I don’t have masks, but can I make a monetary donation?
A. We are not taking monetary donations. We encourage you to donate instead to many of our local nonprofits that will help many of our most vulnerable throughout the next few months.

Q. Can I get a mask at this event?
A. We are currently only taking donations that will then be distributed to those on the frontline of working the response to this pandemic (health care, first responders and essential services).

K-12 Resources
To alleviate any stress of week related to embarking on a new-normal for e-learning, Hattiesburg invites all families to log on virtually to the Hattiesburg Parks & Recreation Facebook page on Friday morning (March 27) for a stretch and move class at 9 a.m. and an art class at 9:30 a.m. with Abigail Lenz Allen. The live feed will also be shared on the City’s Facebook Page.

Both of these classes are under the Hattiesburg Arts Council umbrella and will take place each Monday, Wednesday and Friday. This is made possible due to partnerships between Hattiesburg Arts Council, HAC’s smART Space, Hattiesburg Parks & Recreation, Forrest County, the Mississippi Arts Commission and the Pinebelt Foundation’s Ann Morris Memorial Fund.

Additionally, there is a list of age-appropriate resources along with WiFi spots available throughout the area listed at

Hattiesburg Library
In addition to WiFi access in the parking lot and digital access to resources, Hattiesburg Library is providing curbside pickup through a self-service model. It is also resuming its mail service for users who have active accounts. For more details, visit them on Facebook at Library of Hattiesburg, Petal, and Forrest County.


03/26/2020 – AM |

This morning’s update includes a video message from Mayor Toby Barker. The details included in the video can be found below.

1. If you haven’t already donated blood and can, please do so today. Merit Health Wesley will host a blood drive at 210 West Hospital Drive from 11:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

2. The City of Hattiesburg is hosting a drive for masks to help fill needs for our health care community, first responders and essential services. The Hattiesburg Mask Drive-Thru & Drop-Off will take place this Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. at Jackie Dole Community Center.

Small donations will be unloaded in the front and large donations will be unloaded in the back. Signage will help direct you. As we follow CDC guidelines, do not get out of your vehicle. Staff will unload donations for you.

3. The mayor’s office staff, with input and guidance from our Congressional delegation, are currently pouring over what the CARES Act includes. More importantly, we are working on pulling out what that information means to you – the resident. We’ll push that information out in the coming days.


03/26/2020 – AM |

This morning’s update includes a video message from Mayor Toby Barker. The details included in the video can be found below.

1. If you haven’t already donated blood and can, please do so today. Merit Health Wesley will host a blood drive at 210 West Hospital Drive from 11:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

2. The City of Hattiesburg is hosting a drive for masks to help fill needs for our health care community, first responders and essential services. The Hattiesburg Mask Drive-Thru & Drop-Off will take place this Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. at Jackie Dole Community Center.

Small donations will be unloaded in the front and large donations will be unloaded in the back. Signage will help direct you. As we follow CDC guidelines, do not get out of your vehicle. Staff will unload donations for you.

3. The mayor’s office staff, with input and guidance from our Congressional delegation, are currently pouring over what the CARES Act includes. More importantly, we are working on pulling out what that information means to you – the resident. We’ll push that information out in the coming days.


03/25/2020 |

Today’s update includes another opportunity to donate blood, information about a mask drive, water billing office operations, a reminder regarding school feeding sites and a summary of last night’s executive order by Mayor Barker. See the categorized information below.

Blood Services

Hattiesburg, you have an additional opportunity to give blood this week with Merit Health Wesley. Walk-in or appointments via or 1-800-Red Cross.

  • Thursday, March 26, Merith Health Wellness Center, 11:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., 210 W. Hospital Drive

Hattiesburg Mask Drive-Thru and Drop-Off

To assist Hattiesburg’s health care community, first responders and a general need for personal protective equipment, the City of Hattiesburg will host a mask drive-thru and drop-off event at the Jackie Dole Sherrill Community Center (220 West Front Street) from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m., March 26 – March 28.

All unused masks (medical, construction-grade, sewn fabric, etc.) will be accepted. The event will be drive-thru and drop-off only and all guidelines per CDC will be used for unloading donations out of vehicles.

Instructions include:

  • Donors with one case or fewer are asked to drive up in the right lane on West Front Street in front of Jackie Dole Community Center. Do NOT get out of your vehicle. City of Hattiesburg employees will meet you to unload your donation.
  • Any business/donor that would like to donate several cases or a large load of masks can take a right at West Railroad Street (between City of Hattiesburg’s Engineering Building and Jackie Dole Sherrill Community Center) and pull up to the back entrance. The driver will stay in vehicle. City of Hattiesburg employees will unload.
  • All motorists who frequently drive through West Front Street as a part of their daily commute are to approach the area with caution and patience.

City of Hattiesburg employees will sort masks according to industry and they will be distributed to our local health care community, first responders and essential services.

Water Billing Office Operations

The lobby for the City’s water billing office is closed. You can pay your bill by drive-thru or online at the following link —>

This is an update in operations for payment only. The City remains committed to not suspending services for delinquent accounts.

School Feeding Sites

Hattiesburg Public Schools: Cafeterias at all HPSD school locations (except for Mary Bethune Alternative Center) will begin serving meals Monday – Friday, from 10 a.m. until Noon. Curbside and walk-ups only.

  • Meals are free for ALL children 18 & under.
  • The price for Adult Breakfast is $2.25; Lunch is $3.75

Executive Order 2020-3

On Tuesday night, Mayor Barker issued Executive Order 2020-3 that provided further provisions for essential and nonessential businesses. See this link for full details which includes the video address and links to each executive order issued thus far:

03/24/2020 |

Tonight, Mayor Barker issued an updated executive order to address essential and non-essential retail businesses. The order goes into effect on Thursday, March 26, 2020 for essential businesses and Wednesday, March 25 for non-essential businesse. Both are in effect until April 30, 2020. They include:

To read the full release, click here. To access the executive order in its entirety, see Executive Order 2020-3. To see the executive orders issued on March 17 and March 21, see Executive Order 2020-1 and Executive Order 2020-2.

A copy of Governor Reeves order, issued earlier in the evening, can be accessed here.

See the video from tonight’s livestream, below.

03/23/2020 | 

Going into the week, below are a few things to know about.

Hattiesburg Public School District’s Feeding Program
Cafeterias at all HPSD school locations (except for Mary Bethune Alternative Center) will begin serving meals today (Monday, March 23), from 10 a.m. until Noon. Curbside and walk-ups only.

  • Meals are free for ALL children 18 & under.
  • The price for Adult Breakfast is $2.25; Lunch is $3.75.

Unemployment Services
The Mississippi Department of Employment Security is modifying existing unemployment compensation rules to allow workers to file a claim for unemployment benefits for workers who are affected based upon these measures below:

  • Those who are quarantined by a medical professional or a government agency,
  • Those who are laid off or sent home without pay for an extended period by their employers due to COVID-19 concerns,
  • Those who are diagnosed with COVID-19,
  • Those who are caring for an immediate family member who is diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • The one-week waiting period to receive benefits and the job search requirement have been waived until the end of June.
  • To file an Unemployment Claim, visit the MDES website at or call the MDES Contact Center at 1-888-844-3577. Online filing is encouraged. However, if you need to call – the contact center hours will be 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week.

Blood Services
Hattiesburg, you have helped our community so much by simply donating blood. If you have not donated yet, there’s still time to donate through Forrest General Hospital’s blood drive. It continues today with the following locations and times:

  • Monday, March 23, The Orthopedic Institute, 7 a.m. until 12 p.m., 27 Southern Pointe Parkway
  • Monday, March 23, Pine Grove Behavioral Health & Addiction Services, 1 p.m. until 5 p.m., 2255 Broadway Drive
You also have an additional opportunity to give this week with Merit Health Wesley. Walk-in or appointments via or 1-800-Red Cross.
  • Thursday, March 26, Merith Health Wellness Center, 11:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., 210 W. Hospital Drive

Small Business Loans
The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to Mississippi small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

For additional information or to apply online, visit Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email for more information on SBA disaster assistance. Individuals

03/21/2020 | 

Hattiesburg, Mississippi – On Saturday morning, Mayor Toby Barker issued an update to the executive order that was issued on Tuesday, March 17. It goes into effect on Sunday, March 22, and it states:

  • All restaurants located in the City of Hattiesburg, with or without drive-in or drive-through services, may only provide take-out, pick-up, delivery, or drive-through services as allowed by law. There shall be no in-house dining or available sitting areas for the public.
  • Bars, taverns, lounges and nightclubs shall close, except to the extent that such establishments may only provide take-out, pick-up, delivery, or drive-through services for food as allowed by law.
  • Public and common areas in malls, including food courts, shall close.
  • Entertainment venues, such as skating rinks and bowling alleys, shall close.
  • Movie theaters shall remain closed until April 30, 2020.
  • All dance hall permits remain suspended.
  • There shall be no gatherings of more than 10 people for any event. This includes, but is not limited to, church services, weddings, concerts and other entertainment events.
  • Funerals shall also be limited to 10 or fewer people. Graveside services are encouraged; however, indoor services and viewings are permitted, as long as there are 10 or fewer people inside at one time. Funeral home directors are encouraged to livestream services for those who cannot attend. Funeral home directors should also follow all CDC guidelines as it relates to visitations, viewings and funerals.
  • All gyms and fitness centers shall be closed.

“After looking at our own community data and conferring with our medical professionals – specifically Drs. Farrell and Rouhbakhsh from Forrest General Hospital and Hattiesburg Clinic – we decided to move forward with updating the restrictions that were included in the executive order from Tuesday. It also reflects the guidelines that the Department of Health issued on Friday night,” said Barker. “The potential for this to carry on for two to three more months is real. This alone should be a sobering thought for anyone. We are about to be stretched like never before. And when we make decisions like this; when we take into account those who will be adversely affected economically; when we think about those who are sick right now; when we think about our doctors and nurses out and the risks they are taking on… this should make it really easy for us to just stay home and make good decisions.”

03/20/2020 | 

Updates going into the weekend include:

If you have suddenly found yourself out of work due to the pandemic, you can move forward with filing for unemployment benefits through the Mississippi Department of Employment Security. To create an account and file for benefits, click here.

Due to the overwhelming response to today’s blood drive at Forrest General, additional days and sites have been added:

  • Saturday, March 21, Lake Terrace Convention Center, 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.
  • Sunday, March 22, Lake Terrace Convention Center, Noon until 6 p.m.
  • Monday, March 23, The Orthopedic Institute, 27 Southern Pointe Parkway, 7 a.m. until 12 p.m.
  • Monday, March 23, Pine Grove Behavioral Health & Addiction Services, 2255 Broadway Drive, 1 p.m. until 5 p.m.

Given the mass gathering and group recommendations from the CDC, Mayor Barker has asked for churches to stream live if possible. For a list of churches doing this (which will be updated frequently), CLICK HERE TO ACCESS. If your church is broadcasting, please send the name of the church and the link to

With conspiracies and opinions floating around social media and the web frequently, we now have a page dedicated to squashing the things that are not truthful. CLICK HERE TO ACCESS. If you have a question you would like us to look into, send it to

Hattiesburg Public Schools: All Hattiesburg schools will be closed until April 17th, 2020. At this time plans for online learning are in development and will be shared when complete. On Monday, March 23rd, 2020, all directors, principals, supervisors and essential personnel will report to their assigned work locations for guidance on how to provide our students with access to learning services.

  • Grab and Go feeding will begin next week with approval from the Mississippi Department of Education. All schools will have grab and go stations, however times and protocol for pick up have not yet been finalized.
  • All public school offices, centers and buildings will be closed until April 17, 2020. Please note that all departments and personnel will adhere to CDC guidelines on social distancing and congregating. During this time, only delivery staff will be allowed entrance into HPSD buildings.

Presbyterian Christian School: Campuses will be closed next week to students. There will be no academic responsibilities, ACT testing, athletic activities/competitions/practice or any other school-related activities during this time. At home academic responsibilities are scheduled to start back on Monday, March 30th.

Sacred Heart Schools: All Catholic Schools under the Diocese of Biloxi will be closed for students through April 17th, 2020. Additional closings will be evaluated on a week by week basis, but the hope is that they will reopen on April 20th.

  • The closure includes cancellation of all activities including clubs, extra curricular programs and athletics. Teachers, staff and administrators will continue work March 23-27th, March 30-April 3 and April 6-8th to prepare distance learning lessons.
  • Distance learning will begin on March 23rd and continue through the following dates: 23-27th, March 30-April 3 and April 6-8th. Lessons will be shared by the principal and your child’s teacher.
  • Teachers and administrative staff can be reached via school email for any questions, concerns or advisement on how to complete distance learning. Spring break for students, staff and administrators will be Holy Thursday, April 9 and 10th and continue during April 13-17, 2020.

03/19/2020 | 

On Thursday, March 19, Governor Reeves announced that all public schools will be closed until April 17. Please be patient with our school districts as they adjust their calendars and processes to reflect this and as they communicate with parents. This will allow them some time to figure out the logistics so they can give the best answers to questions as they are asked. 
This morning, Mayor Barker also addressed the community via video. Those highlights can be found below along with the video.
1. Forrest General is in critical need of blood supplies. You have three opportunities to donate:
  • Friday, March 20, and Saturday, March 21 – Forrest General Hospital, in the Adeline parking lot adjacent to the hospital’s parking garage and water tower, 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.
  • Monday, March 23, The Orthopedic Institute, 27 Southern Pointe Parkway, 7 a.m. until 12 p.m.
  • Monday, March 23, Pine Grove Behavioral Health & Addiction Services, 2255 Broadway Drive, 1 p.m. until 5 p.m.
2. Many residents have asked how they can help run basic errands for the city’s most vulnerable populations. For those reasons, Mayor Barker is expanding #TheHattiesburgWay to encompass community needs and the volunteers who want to help. If a resident wants to volunteer, has a need or knows of a need – that information can be provided by filling out the form at City administration will work on matching the requests and working with nonprofit partners to also help. Please be mindful that this is not an endorsement for citizens to get out and not do what is recommended (social distancing, self-quarantining and more importantly – staying home). But, it is an opportunity to serve where possible.
3. The city also encourages residents to keep supporting local businesses. Pick up a to-go order, buy a gift card or ask them directly how they can be helped the best. A full list of restaurant/bar service offerings can be found at

03/18/2020 |

Small Business Disaster Declaration
On Tuesday, March 17, Governor Reeves requested a disaster declaration by the U.S. Small Business Administration to help small businesses and nonprofits who expect to feel a drastic impact on their business from COVID-19. To begin collecting data for the need, Mississippi Emergency Management Agency has created an estimate of disaster impact worksheet that all small businesses are encouraged to fill out and send back to Todd DeMuth at MEMA by April 1 (

Formal communication by mail will be distributed to all small businesses with a privilege tax license for the City of Hattiesburg.

Below are links to the disaster estimate worksheet for download and the instructions sheet.

Spring Break Continued for Hattiesburg Schools:
The Hattiesburg Public School District will be extending Spring Break until Friday, March 27, 2020 while they await guidance from state officials. They are currently working on plans for online learning and Grab and Go feeding set to begin sometime next week once approvals are granted from the Mississippi Department of Education. More information will be released as those plans are finalized. Buildings and the central office will re-open on Monday, March 23, 2020, with limited staff. Employees will receive guidance from their immediate supervisor on work expectations during the extended spring break period. During designated opening hours of HPSD buildings, only delivery staff are allowed to enter the buildings. For more details, visit Hattiesburg Public School District.

Emergency Blood Drive at Forrest General:
Forrest General is in critical need of blood and donating is one of the easiest ways to give back to your community. Due to the response of social distancing, there’s been a shortage in blood supplies due to fewer donations. Emergency Blood Drives, coordinated by Forrest General Hospital and Vitalant, will be held on the following dates:

  • Friday, March 20, and Saturday, March 21 – Forrest General Hospital, in the Adeline parking lot adjacent to the hospital’s parking garage and water tower, 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.
  • Monday, March 23, The Orthopedic Institute, 27 Southern Pointe Parkway, 7 a.m. until 12 p.m.
  • Monday, March 23, Pine Grove Behavioral Health & Addiction Services, 2255 Broadway Drive, 1 p.m. until 5 p.m.

To comply with social distancing and gathering guidelines, tents will be set up with volunteers. If there is a wait, volunteers will take donors’ cell phone numbers and text them when it is their turn, this way donors can wait in their vehicles until they receive a text.

While there is a pressing need for Type O-specific blood, all types are needed. If residents donated at the last Forrest General blood drive on December 10 and 11, 2019, they can still give one unit. They will not be able to give double units.

03/17/2020 |

Hattiesburg, Mississippi – On Tuesday, Mayor Toby Barker was joined by city officials, community leaders and Forrest General’s Dr. Steven Farrell and Dr. Rambod Rouhbakhsh to discuss city operations, court procedures and recent developments for business guidelines.

Barker stated, “Monitoring COVID-19 comes with many steps and factors – including listening to the medical community, meeting with stakeholder groups from the Greater Hattiesburg area, adjusting city services and personnel and working through CDC guidelines – all while trying to process and interpret recent recommendations from the President and the Governor. Today’s updates across city operations, court procedures and business guidelines will all help our community as we continue to work through this pandemic together.”

Click to read the full release regarding these topics. 


03/16/2020 |

To answer several questions that the Mayor’s office has received about what the next several weeks may look like, the following have been drafted:

1. City administration and community partners will continue to work through the implications of CDC guidelines on group gatherings being canceled or limited where there are 50+ people. This threshold was reduced from 250 to 50 on Sunday, March 15 and it continues to be fluid.

2. City officials encourage all residents to to support local where possible. The next several weeks and months will be tough for the local economy, and business will need the support. The CDC guidelines will challenge all to think outside of the box, and several of local restaurants and businesses are working on curbside pick-up and delivery options. A list of those businesses will live on this page. If a business has relevant information that should be included, it can be sent to

3. In regards to school closures: once that information is available, it will be shared. All of local superintendents are working through the details and logistics that will play a major role in those decisions. They aren’t taking them lightly and are working on the best possible outcome for the students and community as a whole.

4. Today’s announcement of the Cough + Fever Clinic by Forrest General Hospital and Hattiesburg Clinic is a big, creative step forward in Hattiesburg’s health care institutions meeting the needs of the community in an outpatient setting that reduces exposure – potentially prohibiting the spread of COVID-19. Those details can be seen below.

Hattiesburg, Mississippi – Forrest General Hospital and Hattiesburg Clinic have announced the creation of a cough and fever clinic in an effort to stop the coronavirus from spreading. On Wednesday, March 18th, the Cloverleaf Immediate Care facility located at 5909 Highway 49 South (located adjacent to Wal-Mart) will be converted to a clinic to assess patients with cough, fever, and other respiratory symptoms.

This walk-in clinic will be open from 8 a.m. – 6 p.m., 7 days a week, and staffed by physicians. Individuals who visit this clinic are not required to call ahead; however, individuals that have symptoms and plan to visit their primary care physician, an emergency room or an immediate care facility are still asked to call ahead.

For more details about the clinic and how it will run, visit

03/15/2020 |

This morning, Mayor Toby Barker reiterated two actions that will continue to limit the potential spread of COVID-19.

1. If you don’t have an emergency need, do not go to the emergency room. This ties up critical emergency services and can cause an overload on our health care system. IF you have symptoms (fever, cough + shortness of breath), CALL your primary care physician or an immediate care clinic FIRST.

2. If you are 65+ or have an underlying/chronic illness, continue to avoid large crowded spaces. Staying home is key in limiting COVID-19’s potential risk to your health.

From Mayor Barker:
“As we near the end of the weekend, I know that doing things differently – as individuals, as organizations, as churches, as a community – can be uncomfortable and disruptive. But understand that this is not like the challenges we have tackled before. This isn’t a tornado or a hurricane, where the event happens and within a week or two we get back to what is somewhat normal. This will require us to change our habits and our lifestyle for some time. It will require us to stretch ourselves and embrace an abundance of empathy for our seniors and those who are most vulnerable in our community.”

03/13/2020 |

Hattiesburg, Mississippi – Following the lead of the federal government on Friday afternoon, Forrest County Board of Supervisor President David Hogan and Mayor Toby Barker both signed documents declaring the response to COVID-19 a local emergency, which has been categorized as a pandemic event, for both Forrest County and the City of Hattiesburg.

This declaration will allow for the use of resources, equipment and money if it is needed to provide for the health and safety of the citizens.

Hogan stated, “Declaring COVID-19 as a local emergency is a precaution. It cuts out the red tape that is often associated with procuring resources, allowing us to serve the residents of Forrest County quickly.”

Barker added, “We know that we are in for a long-term approach in responding to COVID-19, and we know we’ll need the resources to do it. The residents of Hattiesburg deserve our best efforts in keeping them healthy and safe. From personal protective equipment for our medical facilities and first responders to funding for overtime and services provided to our community, making sure they have these resources is a part of that.”

This document is in accordance with Section 33-15-17(d), Mississippi Code of 1972, and shall be reviewed every 30 days until such a local emergency is no longer in effect.

“This declaration is a necessary step in formalizing the process that will allow us to access state and federal resources. It doesn’t mean the situation we’re facing has escalated, but it does give us a tool to use should we need to,” stated Glen Moore, executive director of the Forrest County Emergency Management District. “We’ll continue to work with our emergency management partners at the local, state and federal levels to do all we can to keep our community healthy and safe.”

The documents will be signed and voted on by the Hattiesburg City Council and the Board of Supervisors at the respective meetings next week.

For updates related to COVID-19, including event cancellations and case notices – visit  or

03/13/2020 |

Jackson, Mississippi — Today the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) reports the second and third presumptive positive cases of coronavirus or COVID-19 in Mississippi. Final verification will come from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

One case is a Forrest County adult female over 65 who recently traveled to North Carolina. The patient has been hospitalized. The other case is a Forrest County adult male who recently traveled to Florida and has been self-isolating at home without hospitalization.


03/12/2020 |

Below is a letter from Mayor Toby Barker to students considering Spring Break travel.

To our university students,

I do not count this as parental advice, as I am not nearly old enough – at least in my mind – to have children in college. So let’s just put me in the “real talk with your cool old brother” category.

I get the anticipation of spring break. I understand that it has been a long semester, and you’re looking forward to a week (or two) away.

I also know that when I was in college, I was incredibly carefree with my own health. YOLO wasn’t a term back then (is that phrase still a thing?), but I walked around as if I were invincible. The only thing I had to deal with was the occasional sinus infection, and Dr. Crawford always had a z-pack that would knock it out in a few days.

That changed for me during the summer after my sophomore year. I took a summer-long trip to West Africa. I took my requisite yellow fever/typhoid shots, and I was given a 12-week supply of pills to prevent malaria.

However, when I went over there, I was so busy having fun and engaging in the mission that I only thought to take those malaria pills about half the time. I also did zero research on what a rainy season in West Africa looks like in terms of mosquitos. So a few weeks after arriving back in Hattiesburg to start my junior year, I came down with a rough fever and ended up spending five days in Forrest General fighting off malaria. While I made it through in relatively good fashion, my immune system was shot for the next four years.

The thing is – I knew what I needed to do (take my pills), but I was the right combination of cavalier/busy/dumb to let it affect my everyday decision-making.

You are much smarter than I was back then. However, in the midst of everything you have going on, you may not be seeing the warning signs of how quickly the coronavirus is spreading… CONTINUE READING


03/12/2020 |

Hattiesburg, Mississippi — The first case of COVID-19 in the state was discussed during a press conference on Thursday at Forrest General Hospital. The State Department of Health confirmed on Wednesday that a 49-year-old Forrest County male resident had tested positive for the virus.

At the press conference, Dr. Steve Farrell, chief medical officer for Forrest Health, and Dr. Rambod Rouhbakhsh, assistant director of the Forrest General Family Medicine Residency Program, both provided the following feedback and guidance regarding the state’s (and county’s) first confirmed case of COVID-19.

  • The patient was a textbook example of what to do. He felt ill, called ahead to his primary care physician, he was gloved and masked ot help prevent hte possibility of spread to patients and healthcare workers, was tested adequately and then self-quarantined at home.
  • Following recommendations by the CDC and the Mississippi State Department of Health, mass gatherings, including conferences and conventions, with an excess of 250+ expected in attendance should be postponed or canceled.
  • For all residents over the age of 65 or those with compromised immune systems should consider staying home and not attending non-essential places where there are large crowds of people. This includes church, temple and other large gatherings. We began conversations with local pastors on Wednesday night and many are moving forward with online/broadcast options as well as alternative opportunities for worship.
  • Due to the shortage of personal prtective equipment and supplies (masks, gowns and gloves) across the country, Forrest General and its facilities will limit one visitor per patient – effective immediately.

Recommendations for the community in response to the confirmed case has not changed from when the state had zero cases. Both doctors recommended the following:

  1. If you feel symptomatic – fever, cough + shortness of breath, CALL your primary care physician or an immediate care facility FIRST. The facility will then be able to to steer you in the best direction for care.
  2. Wash your hands and practice good hygiene methods.
  3. If you are sick, stay home. Specifically if you are over the age of 65 or have a compromised immune system.


03/11/2020 |

Jackson, Mississippi — Tonight the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) reports its first presumptive positive case of coronavirus or COVID-19. Final verification will come from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs will release additional information and guidelines to Mississippians at an 11:00 press conference tomorrow morning.



03/11/2020 |

Hattiesburg, Mississippi — While there are no confirmed cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Mississippi, Mayor Toby Barker convened with external stakeholders in the medical, education and emergency management communities on Monday, March 9 to discuss potential impacts and plans related to coronavirus.

On Tuesday, March 10, the City of Hattiesburg’s administrative team issued a memo to employees restricting out of town city-sponsored travel for 45 days. This measure is being implemented to lessen the potential impacts of the transmission of coronavirus.

Barker stated, “The spread of COVID-19 potentially poses significant challenges for our community, and we want to prepare and make responsible decisions that can best keep our citizens and their families healthy and safe. For these reasons and more, we are working diligently with our subject matter experts in the medical community and taking extra precautions on the front-end.”


03/09/2020 |

Hattiesburg, Mississippi — Currently, there are ZERO confirmed cases of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Mississippi.

03/09/2020 |

Hattiesburg, Mississippi — Currently, there are ZERO confirmed cases of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Mississippi.



The following are basic hygiene practices that can help prevent the spread of viruses like the coronavirus and the flu.

  • Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds multiple times a day. An alcohol-based hand sanitizer can be used if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when feeling sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.



The symptoms that are currently being seen with COVID-19 are fever and respiratory symptoms such as cough and shortness of breath.

  • Stay home from work or school until you are free of fever, signs of a fever, and any other symptoms for at least 24 hours and without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medications.
  • Seek medical attention if you have reason to believe you have been exposed to coronavirus or influenza.
    • CALL your healthcare provider first before visiting a healthcare facility.



You probably have questions like the following (and more). Click the button at the bottom of this box to read through our FAQ (which is updated as needed).

  • What are Coronaviruses?
  • How is coronavirus (COVID-19) transmitted, and when will someone get sick if they’re exposed?
  • Should I wear a facemask to prevent COVID-19?
  • How can I protect myself from COVID-19?