Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Currently, there are 2,284 confirmed cases of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and 68 deaths in Forrest County, Mississippi. There are 1,540 confirmed cases of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and 33 deaths in Lamar County, Mississippi. [see more]

Currently, there are 34 confirmed cases (although not all active) of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the City of Hattiesburg workforce. [see more]

Updated September 15, 2020.

We are under an extended Safe Return Order per Governor Tate Reeves’ Executive Order 1522 until Monday, September 30, 2020, at 8 a.m.
We are also under an order by the City of Hattiesburg – Executive Order 2020-18 that allows for restaurants, bars and clubs to stay open until Midnight and provides capacity numbers for nonessential retail. 

EXECUTIVE ORDERS

In response to COVID-19 both Mayor Toby Barker and Governor Reeves’ have issued executive orders to help slow the spread and guide the economy in reopening. Below are links to both sets of orders. 

BRIEFINGS WITH MAYOR BARKER

In response to COVID-19, Mayor Barker has committed to giving 2-5 briefings each week – when needed and when necessary – to communicate local numbers, key insights for data, action steps the community can take to help slow the spread and periodic city news. Below is a link to all briefings on YouTube. 

DAILY BRIEFINGS

INFORMATION & RESOURCES

 

 

 

 

MEDIA INQUIRIES

For all media inquiries, please contact 601-447-5950 (text for best response) or email smccain@hattiesburgms.com.

LINKS FOR REFERENCE

NEED HELP OR INFO?

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.

NEWS & REPORTS

COVID-19 Update | 8/5/2020

During today’s briefing with Mayor Toby Barker, he went over several reopening plans for our area schools, universities and colleges.
 
This information is as of TODAY, and could change. If you have specific questions, we encourage you to reach out directly to your school district for more information. Each website (with plans) can be found below.
 
Hattiesburg Public Schools
Delayed start for all grades: August 17.
  • Aug. 17 – Sept. 4: Classes will take place virtually.
  • Sept. 8: Hybrid school plans will begin.
    • K – 11th Grades will alternate in-person instruction days based on last name according to hybrid schedule.
    • 12th Grade is completely virtual.
    • High school students participating in dual enrollment will adhere to specific university guidelines and learning options.
🔗 Additional information found at – https://www.hattiesburgpsd.com/
 
Presbyterian Christian School
All grades will begin August 11.
 
🔗 Additional information found at – https://www.pcsk12.org/
Sacred Heart Schools
All grades will begin August 6.
  • Pre-K – 6th Grades will attend in-person instruction or can choose to participate through virtual learning options through Aug. 17.
  • 7th – 12th Grades will begin with virtual learning and remain home until Aug. 17.
🔗 Additional information found at – http://www.shshattiesburg.com/
 
Forrest County Schools
Delayed start for all grades: August 17.
  • K – 6th Grades will return for in-person instruction.
  • The school district is still considering options for 7th – 12th Grades.
🔗 Additional information found at – https://www.fcsd.us/
 
Petal Schools
Delayed start for all grades: August 17.
  • Students with last names beginning with A – L will return on Aug. 17.
  • Students with last names beginning with M – Z will return on Aug. 18.
  • All students will resume in person on August 19.
🔗 Additional information found at – https://www.petalschools.com/
 
Lamar County Schools
Will begin August 13 as scheduled, but with a staggered start.
  • Middle and high school students will return for their choice of in-person instruction or virtual learning on Aug. 13.
  • All students at Baxterville and Lumberton will return on Aug. 13; but, then they will not come back until August 17.
  • Elementary students return for their choice of in-person instruction or virtual learning on Aug. 14.
  • All grades at all Lamar County Schools will return and begin the scheduled academic year on Aug. 17.
🔗 Additional information found at – http://www.lamarcountyschools.org/
 
The University of Southern Mississippi
Classes begin virtually (only) on August 17.
  • In-person instruction will resume on Sept. 8.
🔗 Additional information found at – usm.edu/flight-path
 
William Carey University
Classes begin virtually and in-person on August 24.
 
🔗 Additional information found at – https://www.wmcarey.edu/page/coronavirus-update
Pearl River Community College
Classes begin virtually and in-person on August 17.
 
🔗 Additional information found at – http://www.prcc.edu/news/pearl-river-announces-plans-fall-2020
 
 
Again, these are the plans as of today – and may change. As we continue to navigate this new academic year, please remember to show patience and appreciation to your school/university/college administrators, teachers, instructors and staff.

SCHOOL PLANS

To see Mayor Barker’s briefing for today, check out the video below. 

7/29/2020 | Daily Update

Today’s update includes a link to Mayor Barker’s daily briefing, our local data and a new Executive Order to address late night gatherings/crowds.

Daily Briefing
To hear Mayor Toby Barker discuss the notes for today, see the video below:

Local Data
Total tests: 37,709
Positive results: 4,176
Negative results: 32,145
Pending tests: 1,377

Hospital Data for Forrest General and Merit Health Wesley:
Hospitalizations: 90 (with 15 pending test results)
ICU Utilizations: 39

Total Positive Case Data Since March
Forrest County: 1,491
Lamar County: 1,011
Metro Area: 2,502

Estimate of Positive Cases within 14-Day Period
Forrest Co – Inside 14-Days: 386
Lamar Co – Inside 14-Days: 386
Metro Combined – Inside 14-Days: 772

Executive Order 2020-14

On Wednesday, July 29, Mayor Toby Barker issued new limitations for restaurants, bars, entertainment venues and dance halls through Executive Order 2020-14 in hopes to alleviate the spike of COVID-19 cases throughout Forrest and Lamar Counties.

“From the beginning, we’ve stated that our three goals in response to COVID-19 are to protect our vulnerable, prevent the overrun of our health care system and prioritize public health while giving our private sector the room to operate creatively,” said Barker. “Right now, goals one and two are not being met – and we have a small window to make decisions that can change that trajectory for the better.”

Barker stated in his daily briefing for Wednesday that both hospitals are operating by their surge plans for ICU space. Currently, both have 90 hospitalized and 39 in the ICU. Additionally, the Forrest and Lamar County metro area has seen an increase in 772 new positive cases in the past 14 days.

The new order will go into effect on Friday, July 31 and expire on Friday, August 17. It includes:

  • Bars, nightclubs, music venues and indoor entertainment venues must close by 10 p.m.
  • Restaurants must cease dine-in service (indoor and outdoor) at 10 p.m.
  • Dance hall permits are suspended.
  • Businesses must continue compliance with masks, distancing, capacity limits and other requirements from previous orders.

TO READ MORE

7/20/2020 | Daily Update

Governor Reeves has extended his safe return order and added Forrest County to his mask order. The City of Hattiesburg’s Executive Order 2020-13 has also been signed to reflect those changes.

Hospitalizations/ICU
Between our two hospitals, there are 79 COVID-positive patients in the hospital, with 36 of them in ICU. There are 26 patients under investigation.

New positive cases over the weekend
Forrest County
7/18 – (-22)
7/19 – 21
7/20 – 36

The (-22) for Forrest County on Saturday was likely due to a data reconciliation at the state level. At several points throughout this pandemic, addresses have been attributed to Forrest County that were really in Lamar County, Perry County or sometimes in Stone County. Our Forrest County Emergency Management District reported these to MSDH and reconciled locally with the Lamar County Emergency Management District. However, when these decreases in overall cases appear for Forrest County (this has happened twice before) – accompanied by a larger than normal increase for Lamar County (see below) – that is what is happening.

New positive cases over the weekend
Lamar County
7/18 – 57
7/19 – 13
7/20 – 35

The three-day total of new positive cases in the metro area was 140.

Total positive cases
Forrest County – 1197
Lamar County – 807
Total metro area – 2004

5-day average
Forrest County – 18.4
Lamar County – 36.4
Total metro area – 54.8

New positive cases reported in the past 14 days
Forrest County – 319
Lamar County – 342
Total metro area – 661

One tool that was debuted late last week from the Mississippi State Department of Health is weekly profiles of local county data. You can access this by going to this link: https://msdh.ms.gov/msdhsite/_static/31,0,420.html and clicking on a county.

Another MSDH tool is seeing the ranking of counties based on incidences of new positive cases over a 7-day period. You can access that by clicking here: https://msdh.ms.gov/msdhsite/_static/resources/8634.pdf

7/17/2020 | Daily Update

For today’s briefing with Mayor Barker, see video below.

A few points he discusses can also be located below:

Local Testing
▪️ Total tests: 31,118
▪️ Positive tests: 3,156
▪️ Negative tests: 26,303
▪️ Pending: 1,611

Hospital Numbers (Forrest General/Merit Health Wesley)
▪️ Hospitalizations: 70, with 21 additional patients waiting results
▪️ ICU Utilizations: 31

Cumulative Case Totals
▪️ Forrest County: 1,162
▪️ Lamar County: 702
▪️ Metro Area: 1,864

Georgia Tech Bioscience Model
Shows risk level of attending an event in a particular county and being exposed to at least 1 COVID-positive person, based on the size of event.
▪️ Source: covid19risk.biosci.gatech.edu

Mask Distribution with Forrest County Emergency Management
4080 US Hwy 11, Near Sully’s
▪️ Saturday, July 18, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
▪️ Sunday, July 19, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

If you are shut-in or elderly, call 601-544-5911 to arrange delivery.

Blood Drive with the Junior Auxiliary of Hattiesburg
▪️ Saturday, July 18, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Visit bloodhero.com, code: juniorauxiliary

6/29/2020 | Daily Update

Today’s update includes the latest data for Forrest and Lamar Counties, information regarding the Safe Return order that Governor Reeves extended and the extension of masks for the City of Hattiesburg through Exec. Order 2020-11.

Local Data Through June 29

Testing Totals
▪️Total tests: 22,417
▪️Positive tests: 2,050
▪️Negative tests: 19,660
▪️Pending: 708

Total Hospitalizations (between Forrest General and Merit Health Wesley): 37
Total ICU Utilizations (between Forrest General and Merit Health Wesley): 16

Total Cumulative Numbers
▪️Forrest County: 786
▪️Lamar County: 393
▪️Metro Area: 1,179

Active Cases Inside 14-Days – Forrest County: 105
Active Cases Inside 14-Days – Lamar County: 105

Safe Return Order
Governor Tate Reeves has extended the Safe Return Order until Monday, July 6.

▪️Under this order, all previous orders extended until July 6
▪️Pools can be open 24 hours
▪️Volunteers/workers at concession stands must wear a mask and social distancing must be adhered to

The full order can be viewed at http://www.hattiesburgms.com/…/Executive_Order_1500_Extend_…

Executive Order 2020-11
Today, Mayor Barker signed Executive Order 2020-11 extending mask requirements for all businesses by employees and all retail customers through July 6, 2020.

This order also includes the extension of all capacity limits for businesses.

The full order can be seen here: http://www.hattiesburgms.com/…/uploa…/exec_order_2020-11.pdf

To see the full briefing from Mayor Toby Barker discussing all of the above, see below:

6/17/2020 | Daily Update

Today’s update includes a link to Mayor Barker’s daily briefing, a quick look at numbers for the Hattiesburg Metro area and a note about an employee who has tested positive for COVID-19.

Daily Briefing with Mayor Barker
To see the full video, click: https://www.facebook.com/tobybarkerMS/videos/766409047229362/

Local Data

Positive Cases

  • Forrest County: 697
  • Lamar County: 300
  • Metro Area: 997

Hospital Numbers for Forrest General and Merit Health Wesley

  • Hospitalizations: 42
  • ICU Admissions: 19

Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19
Today, the city’s administrative team learned that an employee within the Hattiesburg Fire Department tested positive for COVID-19. This employee has not been at work since Saturday, June 13.

This employee also served as a volunteer during mask distribution this past Saturday at Fire Station #8, located at 104 Lamar Boulevard. The City’s health care partners have advised that due to the limited interaction between volunteers and the public, as well as the level of PPE worn during this event, that virus transfer probability is limited. However, the City is asking any resident who picked up a mask on Saturday at Fire Station #8, located at 104 Lamar Boulevard, to self-monitor for symptoms and to test if needed. Below is a list of testing availabilities in Hattiesburg:

CE Roy COVID-19 Testing Site – FREE
300 East 5th Street, Hattiesburg, MS 39401
Hours: Monday/Wednesday/Friday, 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Cough + Fever Clinic / Curbside COVID Testing
5905 US Hwy 49, Hattiesburg, MS 39402
Hours: Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Merit Health Wesley – Resident Clinic
103 Asbury Circle, Hattiesburg, MS 39402
Phone Number: 601-268-5200

Trust Care
6176 US Highway 98, Hattiesburg, MS 39402
Hours: Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Phone Number: 601-475-0444

SeMRHI – Minor Care Clinic
123 South 27th Avenue Hattiesburg, MS 39401
Hours: Mon. – Sun. 9:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Phone Number: 601-450-3030

Administration within the Fire Department has traced direct exposure of this employee to two additional employees – who are now at home in self-isolation until they receive testing results. Indirect exposure includes about 14 employees. Out of an abundance of caution, those employees will be tested and continue to wear PPE at all times while at work.

This brings the total confirmed number of positive cases for the City of Hattiesburg’s workforce to nine since March 11.

6/11/2020 | Daily Update

Today’s update includes a few notes about the Back to Business MS Grant Program and another mask distribution opportunity.

Back to Business MS
This is a $240M grant program that was established to help small businesses in Mississippi with 50 or fewer employees recover from the economic impact of COVID-19, including operating expenses and salaries. A few key dates to note:
▪️ June 11: applications open; all eligible businesses can apply
▪️ Within first 21 days: Businesses that did not receive federal PPP funds or EIDL Advance will receive priority
▪️ Within the first 60 days: $40M will be reserved for minority-owned and women-owned businesses

To apply or to access more details, eligibility requirements and more, visit backtobusinessms.org.

Mask Distribution
Beginning Friday, June 12 at 8 a.m. through Saturday, June 13, Forrest County Emergency Management will distribute washable masks, free, to Forrest County Residents. Below are the locations for pick-up:
▪️ Forrest County EOC 4080 US Hwy 11 Hattiesburg
▪️ Forrest County Chancery Building 641 Main Street
▪️ Hattiesburg Fire Station #1 810 Main Street
▪️ Hattiesburg Fire Station #2 805 Katie Ave
▪️ Hattiesburg Fire Station #3 53 Academy Dr
▪️ Hattiesburg Fire Station #4 5033 Hwy 42
▪️ Hattiesburg Fire Station #5 922 East Hardy Street
▪️ Hattiesburg Fire Station #6 3804 Montague Blvd
▪️ Hattiesburg Fire Station #7 46 Parkway Blvd
▪️ Hattiesburg Fire Station #8 104 Lamar Blvd

Daily Briefing with Mayor Barker
Today’s briefing with Mayor Toby Barker goes over the most recent numbers and the details of the notes above. To see it in its entirety, visit https://www.facebook.com/tobybarkerMS/videos/3092488944176623/

6/5/2020 | Daily Update

Today’s update includes a few notes about COVID-19 testing and blood donations. It also includes several notes about this weekend’s weather forecast.
COVID-19 Testing
If you live in south Lamar County, there is a free drive-thru testing opportunity on Saturday (June 6) at Ben Barrett Community Center in Lumberton, from Noon until 4 p.m. The test is free, but you must be screened first with the Cspire Health App. If you do not have a smartphone, you can also call 601-496-7200.
To date, the testing site at CE Roy Community Center has administered 503 tests, with 396 results provided. This site will continue to operate on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, but the times will change to 8 a.m. until 2 p.m.
This change takes effect on Monday, June 8.
Blood Donations & Antibody Testing
This Saturday, you can receive an antibody test while also saving a life. From 7 a.m. until 7 p.m., you can donate blood at Jackie Dole Sherrill Community Center (220 West Front Street).
To make an appointment, visit https://hubs.ly/H0r2Hzv0.
To learn more about the city’s response to COVID-19, visit hattiesburgms.com/coronavirus.
Cristobol – Tropical System
Now listed as a tropical depression, Cristobol is expected to make landfall in Louisiana late Sunday evening. Our area is expected to receive a lot of wind and rain, with the possibility of flash flooding. Tornadoes cannot be ruled out.
Sandbags are available throughout the weekend at Fire Station #1 (810 North Main Street). These are free and available to the public.
We will continue to monitor the forecast and bring you additional updates throughout the weekend. Please stay weather aware.

Below, you will find Mayor Barker’s daily briefing where he discusses the above notes and more.

6/3/2020 | Daily Update

Today’s update includes information about the Mississippi Department of Public Safety (Official)‘s reopening of driver’s license stations across the state, a new testing opportunity, a note about the forecast for Tropical Storm Cristobol and a link to Mayor Barker’s daily briefing.

Driver’s License Stations Reopen
Today – Gov. Reeves announced that on Monday, June 8, the Department of Public Safety will open its permanent driver’s license stations with modifications to ensure social distancing amid COVID-19.

The stations will be open on specific days, directed by the first letter of a person’s last name. Walk-ins are welcome on Wednesdays.

  • Mondays: A-E
  • Tuesdays: F-L
  • Wednesdays: Walk-ins welcome
  • Thursday: M-S
  • Friday: T-Z

Face coverings are encouraged while inside stations.

These are the only services available in-person.
→ CDL Transactions
→ Out of State Transfers
→ New Credentials
→ New Identification Card Credentials
→ Security Guard Permits (Wednesdays only)
→ Sex Offender Registration
→ Permit tests for students
→ Reinstatements
→ Non-U.S. Citizens
→ Ignition-Interlock Restricted Licenses

License renewals or replacements, ID cards or change of addresses can be done via the website → http://driverservicebureau.dps.ms.gov.

All road tests for non-commercial drivers are waived until further notice to help reduce the risk of transmission. Minors can submit an affidavit completed by parent or guardian certifying 50 hours of supervised driving time, which will be available on the website (https://www.driverservicebureau.dps.ms.gov/).

COVID-19 Testing Opportunity
On Saturday, June 6, Mississippi State Department of Health and UMC will provide free drive-thru testing in Lumberton.

While free, an appointment must be made through a screening via the cSpire Health App or by 601-496-7200.
▪️SATURDAY, JUNE 6 | NOON – 4 PM
▪️BEN BARRETT COMMUNITY CENTER
▪️764 E MAIN AVENUE

Tropical Storm Cristobol
We are watching the forecast for Cristobol closely. The forecast will continue to evolve over the next few days. As landfall data becomes more concrete, we will share that information with you here.

Today’s Daily Briefing
In today’s briefing with Mayor Toby Barker, he goes over today’s numbers and discusses a few reminders.

To see it in full:

5/29/2020 | Safe Return Details

On June 1, the Governor’s Safe Return order will begin. Here’s what that includes:

Effective June 1 – June 15
→ All vulnerable (65+/underlying health conditions) should continue to shelter at home.

GROUP GATHERINGS
→ Group gatherings & recreation if social distancing is not possible
▪️ Indoor: 20
▪️ Outdoor: 50

→ Group gatherings & recreation if social distancing is possible
▪️ Indoor: 50
▪️ Outdoor: 100

BUSINESS OPERATIONS
→ All businesses will be allowed to open to some degree, with strict guidelines.
→ Most current restrictions on restaurants and retail remain.
→ Live music can resume.

RECREATION
→ Outdoor sports complexes and multi-field complexes can open for team sports – with CDC guidelines and limitations

→ Indoor recreation and places of amusement, movie theaters, libraries and museums
▪️ 50% capacity with CDC guidelines and limitations

EVENT VENUES
→ Event spaces (reception halls and conference centers)
▪️ 25% capacity and CDC guidelines and limitations

SCHOOLS
→ School facilities can open for summer instructional learning with guidance from MDE and MSDH

MASKS
The City of Hattiesburg Executive Order 2020-9 is still in effect until June 15 and includes:
→ Masks are required for employees at all businesses.
→ Masks are required for all customers at retail stores.

RESOURCES
Reeves’ Executive Order 1492 (Text)
https://mcusercontent.com/…/Executive_Order_1492_Safe_Retur…

City of Hattiesburg Executive Order 2020-9
→ http://www.hattiesburgms.com/…/uploads/exec_order_2020-9.pdf

The Hattiesburg Way Forward – Reopening Guide
→ http://www.hattiesburgms.com/…/Hattiesburg-Way-Forward-Guid…

Back to Business Mississippi Grants
→ www.backtobusinessms.org

To see Mayor Barker’s Daily Briefing, see the video below:

5/28/2020 | Daily Update

Today’s briefing with Mayor Barker goes over testing data from the free testing site at C.E. Roy Community and provides more information about masks and hand sanitizer for organizations, businesses and churches who may need it.

Four factors that go into reopening Hattiesburg include:

  • Widespread availability of testing
  • Wearing of masks
  • Watching local data
  • Listening to all voices

As a part of that, the City of Hattiesburg, Forrest County, Forrest General, Hattiesburg Clinic and the Mississippi Department of Health have partnered together to host a free testing site at C.E. Roy Community Center (300 E. 5th Street), on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. Symptoms aren’t required to receive a test.

Testing data from the first two weeks of being open include:

  • May 18: 70
  • May 20: 92
  • May 22 – 77
  • May 25 – 38
  • May 27 – 54

Additionally, helping connect individuals, organizations, businesses and churches in the community with the resources they need to help slow the spread plays a vital role in Hattiesburg’s response to COVID-19. This includes masks and hand sanitizer. All Hattiesburg Fire Department Stations still have about 100 masks left. These are free and available to the public. If an organization/church/business is in need of hand sanitizer or masks, please arrange a pick-up for these items with the Mayor’s Office at 601-545-4501 or mayor@hattiesburgms.com.

See below for the full briefing with Mayor Barker:

5/27/2020 | Daily Update

Today’s update features the briefing with Mayor Barker goes over the announcement from Gov. Reeves for his “Safe Return” Order – Executive Order 1492, which will take effect on June 1 at 8 a.m.

It includes:

  • All businesses will be allowed to open to some degree, with strict guidelines.
  • Most current restrictions on restaurants and retail will remain.
  • Live music can resume.
  • Gatherings where social distancing is possible: indoor max: 50; outdoor max: 100.
  • Gatherings where social distancing is not possible: indoor max: 20; outdoor max: 50.

To see the full briefing:

5/26/2020 | Daily Update

Today’s update rounds out all of the current executive orders into one place and goes over what began today with both Governor Reeves’ Orders 1487 & 1488 and Mayor Barker’s Executive Order 2020-9.

Governor Reeves’ Executive Orders 1487 & 1488

  • Opens outdoor recreation and amusement (playgrounds, water parks, etc.) at 50% capacity.
  • Opens school sports practices, weight rooms and training facilities.
  • Extends other elements of the Safer-at-Home order until June 1, this includes that indoor amusement and recreation remain closed, per Governor Reeves’ order.

Executive Order 2020-9

  • Turtle Creek Mall is open. The food court is to-go only.
    • Masks are required. Customer occupancy limits are by square footage. Entertainment venues (movie theater and other amusement) are still closed.
  • Massage therapy facilities are open.
  • Capacity in salons and barbershops are expanded.
  • Mask requirement in gyms is relaxed.

Mayor Barker discusses all of these components along with today’s numbers in his briefing. See the video below:

5/22/2020 | Daily Update

Today’s update includes several notes for you going into the weekend regarding mask distribution, the Hattiesburg Way Forward – a resource guide to reopening businesses safely, Gov. Reeves’ latest orders, new openings on Tuesday and a note about Memorial Day.

Mask Distribution
On Saturday, May 23 and Sunday, May 24, masks can be picked up at the Forrest County EOC from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. The address is 4080 US Hwy 11 Hattiesburg next to Sully’s Restaurant.

Additional locations for Saturday, May 23 – 8 a.m. until Noon, include:
▪️Macedonia Fire Station 610 Macedonia Rd, Petal
▪️Sunrise Fire Station 1071 Luther Carter Rd, Petal
▪️North Forrest Fire Station 2315 Glendale Ave, Hattiesburg
▪️Rawls Springs Fire Station 512 Archie Smith Rd, Hattiesburg
▪️Dixie Fire Station 19 Dixie Barn Rd, Hattiesburg
▪️McLaurin Fire Station 310 Carter Rd, Hattiesburg
▪️Brooklyn Fire Station 48 Hwy 49 to Brooklyn, Brooklyn
▪️Carnes Fire Station 268 John Morris Rd, Lumberton

The Hattiesburg Way Forward
Through collaboration (and with much thanks to the Area Development Partnership), a resource guide for reopening safely amid COVID-19 has been compiled for business and organizational use.

The document lists best practices regarding:
– Protecting employees and customers
– Cleaning, disinfecting, hygiene and sanitization
– Communicating with staff and the public
– Screening of employees
– Personal protective equipment
– Paid leave guidelines in federal law
– Industry-specific COVID-19 resources

To access http://www.hattiesburgms.com/…/Hattiesburg-Way-Forward-Guid…

Governor Reeves’ Executive Orders 1487 & 1488
▪️ Opens outdoor recreation and amusement (playgrounds, water parks, etc.) at 50% capacity.
▪️ Opens school sports practices, weight rooms and training facilities.
▪️ Extends other elements of the Safer-at-Home order until June 1, this includes that indoor amusement and recreation remain closed, per Governor Reeves’ order.

New Openings May 26
▪️ Turtle Creek Mall
▪️ Massage therapy will open in some capacity
▪️ Expand capacity in salons and barbershops
▪️ Relax mask requirements for working out in gyms

Executive Order 2020-9 with these openings and guidelines will be issued over the weekend.

To learn more about this information, see today’s briefing with Mayor Toby Barker.

Memorial Day
In lieu of the typical Memorial Day Ceremony, the Veterans Committee of Hattiesburg will host a virtual reading of names to honor the 173 individuals from Hattiesburg who died while serving in the U.S. military.

It will be streamed here and broadcast on WFOR 92.7 FM and 1400 AM.

 

5/21/2020 | Daily Update

Today’s update includes information about the mall reopening and mask distribution by the Forrest County Emergency Management.

Turtle Creek Mall
On Tuesday, May 26, Turtle Creek Mall will reopen. This entails:

  • No food court seating.
  • Masks required.
  • Customer occupancy limits will be per square footage guidelines, same as other nonessential retail (outlined in Executive Order 2020-5.
  • Entertainment venues continue to be closed per Governor Reeves’ Orders 1477/1480.

Mask Distribution
Beginning Friday, May 22, Forrest County Emergency Management will distribute Kn95 masks, free, to the community. Below are the locations for pick-up:

  • Forrest County EOC 4080 US Hwy 11 Hattiesburg
  • Forrest County Chancery Building 641 Main Street
  • Hattiesburg Fire Station #1 810 Main Street
  • Hattiesburg Fire Station #2 805 Katie Ave
  • Hattiesburg Fire Station #3 53 Academy Dr
  • Hattiesburg Fire Station #4 5033 Hwy 42
  • Hattiesburg Fire Station #5 922 East Hardy Street
  • Hattiesburg Fire Station #6 3804 Montague Blvd
  • Hattiesburg Fire Station #7 46 Parkway Blvd
  • Hattiesburg Fire Station #8 104 Lamar Blvd
  • Petal Civic Center 712 South Main St, Petal

This will take place Monday – Friday, between the hours of 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

On Saturday, May 23 and Sunday, May 24, masks can be picked up at the Forrest County EOC from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. The address is 4080 US Hwy 11 Hattiesburg next to Sully’s Restaurant.

Additional locations for Saturday, May 23 – 8 a.m. until Noon, include:

  • Macedonia Fire Station 610 Macedonia Rd, Petal
  • Sunrise Fire Station 1071 Luther Carter Rd, Petal
  • North Forrest Fire Station 2315 Glendale Ave, Hattiesburg
  • Rawls Springs Fire Station 512 Archie Smith Rd, Hattiesburg
  • Dixie Fire Station 19 Dixie Barn Rd, Hattiesburg
  • McLaurin Fire Station 310 Carter Rd, Hattiesburg
  • Brooklyn Fire Station 48 Hwy 49 to Brooklyn, Brooklyn
  • Carnes Fire Station 268 John Morris Rd, Lumberton

5/15/2020 | Daily Update

Beginning Monday, May 18, the following will open:
→ Nail Salons
Following all appointment measures, sanitization protocols and social distancing measures for hair salons and barbershops from Exec. Order 2020-6.
→ Tattoo Shops
Following guidelines identified in Gov. Reeves’ Exec. Order 1486.
→ Indoor Dining at Restaurants
Following the 50% total capacity limitations, all sanitization and social distancing measures for outdoor dining from Exec. Order 2020-7.
Also on Monday, the COVID-19 Testing Center at C.E. Roy will open. Testing is free and symptoms are not required. No appointment needed, walk-ins welcome.
The center will be open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m.

To hear Mayor Barker’s briefing discussing the topics above, see the video below:

5/14/2020 | Daily Update

Today’s update includes a recap of the COVID-19 testing center that was announced today, the go-cup ordinance that was passed for the entire city by the Hattiesburg City Council this afternoon, information about masks and hand sanitizer for businesses/organizations and a reminder about assistance applications.

COVID-19 Testing
To accelerate testing capacity and access for residents in Hattiesburg, the City of Hattiesburg is partnering with the Forrest County Emergency Management District, the Forrest County Board of Supervisors, Hattiesburg Clinic, Forrest General Hospital and the Mississippi State Department of Health to provide a free COVID-19 community testing center at C.E. Roy Community Center (500 E Fifth Street).

The testing center will open on Monday, May 18 and be open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Symptoms are not required for testing.

Testing is free, covered by a grant from the Department of Health. In addition to providing use of this facility, the City of Hattiesburg will also aim to use part of its COVID-19 Community Development Block Grant to support operations of the facility and funding for ongoing case management for the individuals who test positive.

For more information, see the full release: http://www.hattiesburgms.com/…/hattiesburg-announces-free-…/

Go-Cup Ordinance
To help restaurants and businesses operate creatively as Hattiesburg reopens the economy, the Hattiesburg City Council passed a temporary go-cup ordinance which includes the entire city limits of Hattiesburg until the governor removes the State of Emergency or for the next 90 days – whichever is longer.

Before you grab drinks to go, know the following:
→ Patrons are required to go inside a restaurant or bar to purchase a beverage. Leaving the site with a drink in hand is allowed, as long as it is done within the boundaries of the district (within the city limits).
→ Go-cups are issued at the discretion of individual establishments. The owner, manager o bartender has the right to refuse a go-cup to any individual they believe may be in danger of being over-served.
→ Only one (non-glass) container will be issued per guest over the age of 21.
→ Patrons must finish a beverage in a go-cup before entering another establishment.
→ This ordinance does not allow for any driving with an open container.
→ It is illegal to have an open container inside a vehicle.

An unsigned copy of the ordinance can be located here (a signed copy will replace this one once it’s finalized): http://www.hattiesburgms.com/…/unsigned_citywide_gocup_dist…

Masks & Hand Sanitizer
Thanks to an incredibly generous donation of both liquid hand sanitizer and masks, both are available to businesses/churches/organizations that may be in need of one or both.

Please send all requests via email to mayor@hattiesburgms.com.

If you, as an individual, still need a mask, send this page a message and we’ll get you more information about how to get one.

COVID-19 Relief Program
The United Way of Southeast Mississippi is accepting applications for its COVID-19 Relief Program – an initiative designed to help households in Forrest, Lamar, Marion and Perry Counties that have lost income due to COVID-19.

This program is made possible through the generosity of corporate and individual donations. Funding assistance can be used for paying rent and utility bills (power, water and natural gas).
For additional details, eligibility criteria and the application, visit unitedwaysems.org/coronavirus.

Mayor Toby Barker’s Daily Briefing
Today’s briefing includes much of the information above and a look at today’s numbers.

To see the full briefing:

5/11/2020 | Restaurants Can Begin Outdoor Dining on Thursday, May 14

During Mayor Barker’s briefing today, he announced that restaurants can begin operating outdoor dining (only) on Thursday, May 14 at 8 a.m. This executive order will be signed and sent out by Wednesday. Today’s notice was to allow restaurants the time needed to prepare for opening. The order will include the following stipulations:

  • Must limit customers to 50% of outdoor seating capacity
  • Must close by 10 p.m.
  • Must meet all social-distancing minimums, cleaning/sanitation standards and employee/customer COVID-screening requirements of Gov. Reeves’ Order 1478.
  • Bars not serving food shall remain closed

For restaurants that currently do not have outdoor dining spaces:

  • Conversion of parking spaces to outdoor dining will be allowed
  • Cannot serve more than 50% of indoor capacity
  • Must mark off outdoor dining areas clearly and ensure continued traffic flow
  • Must not hinder ADA access
  • Must meet all social-distancing minimums, cleaning/sanitation standards and employee/customer COVID-screening requirements of Gov. Reeves’ Order 1478.

5/9/2020 | Barbershops, Salons & Gyms to Open on May 11 in Hattiesburg with More Stringent Guidelines

Mayor Toby Barker announced Saturday that barbershops, salons and gym facilities in the city limits will open following Governor Reeves Executive Order 1480, but with more stringent guidelines.

“Two weeks ago, we announced that reopening the city would include a measured approach – one built on local data and one built with the input of business owners,” said Barker. “Throughout the last two weeks, I’ve collaborated with our community working group and owners of gyms, salons and barbers. While following Governor Reeves’ order, we have identified a few more limitations that will help with crowding and the duration of person-to-person exposure.”

In addition to Reeves’ Executive Order 1480, barbershops, salons and gym facilities will also be held to the following stipulations of Executive Order 2020-6. This order will last for two weeks, until May 25, 2020 (unless modified, rescinded or extended).

To see the full release, click here.

05/6/2020 | Daily Update

Please see the following notes regarding Governor Reeves’ Executive Order 1478 in Hattiesburg.

Parks:

  • The sections of Governor Reeves’ Executive Order 1478 regarding state parks, municipal parks and outdoor recreational activities will stand without additional restrictions beginning May 7, at 8 a.m.

Restaurants

  • While Gov. Reeves’ order provides a baseline for restaurants to open indoor/outdoor dining at 50% capacity beginning Thursday, it continues to give municipalities the ability to use local data and provide for more stringent regulations – should they be needed.
  • Due to the surge in numbers in Forrest County, Mayor Barker’s Executive Order 2020-5’s provisions for restaurants to provide service by curbside, delivery or take-out only remain in effect. Seating at facilities will remain closed.
  • Mayor Barker will continue to discuss local data with the medical community and restaurant owners to address plans for next week – with the hope that the numbers level off or drop.

Letter from Mayor Toby Barker:

On the heels of Governor Reeves’ decision this Tuesday regarding restaurants, I have spent the last 36 hours speaking with dozens of restaurant owners and conferring with our medical leaders on the front lines dealing with COVID-19. I have also closely followed our own local testing and hospitalization data.

I want restaurants open. The owners and establishments they have built are more than eateries. They are economic drivers. They are institutions in our community, and many of them have taken massive losses to investments and livelihoods since this pandemic began. That isn’t lost on me, and quite frankly – it keeps me up at night.

However, I can’t ignore the surge we are seeing in our own community:

– on the Forrest County side, our 5-day average of new positive cases is at an all-time high; at first it appeared we peaked in mid-April, but many of those numbers are being surpassed

– this week, we have more people in the ICU for COVID-positive patients than ever before

– 8 of the 18 COVID-related deaths in Forrest County have happened in the last 8 days

For these reasons, we will delay the opening of dining rooms and outdoor eating spaces in restaurants.

We will monitor Hattiesburg’s data throughout the weekend. While I understand that no action we take will automatically bring down infection rates in the next few days, I do think it will afford us an opportunity to see where these numbers go. We hope that numbers level off or start to fall. If that occurs, some type of communal dining could happen next week.

I know that I cannot affect every element of how and to whom this disease spreads or does not spread in our community. For a mayor, that’s a very helpless feeling. However, we do need to be willing to make rational decisions on when not to make an unsteady situation potentially worse.

As we reopen our city, we will continue prioritizing public health while giving our businesses the space to operate creatively. With more interaction happening with one another, we will take actions to try and reduce the risk of community transmission.

I recognize this is a balance. Trust me, I do.

We will continue to dialogue with our restaurants on how to move forward. We are working on updated safety and cleanliness guidelines that will follow the governor’s executive order, the CDC and other best practices. We have amazing leaders in our restaurant sector, and their resilience throughout this disappointing time is a testament to their strength and goodness. Please continue to support them with takeout and delivery options this week.

05/4/2020 | Daily Update

Today’s update looks at time-sensitive information regarding economic impact payments from the IRS, how to properly wear a mask, a free community testing availability for South Hattiesburg and the Palmer’s Crossing Community and an update regarding Gov. Reeves’ Executive Order 1478.

ECONOMIC IMPACT PAYMENTS
The Internal Revenue Service is reminding all who receive Supplemental Security Income and who are Department of Veterans Affairs beneficiaries to act by Tuesday, May 5 if they didn’t file a tax return in 2018 or 2019 and have dependents so they can quickly receive the full amount of their Economic Impact Payment.

Their $1,200 payments will be issued soon and, in order to add the $500 per eligible child amount to these payments, the IRS needs the dependent information before the payments are issued. Otherwise, their payment at this time will be $1,200 and, by law, the additional $500 per eligible child amount will be paid in association with a return filing for the tax year 2020.

To update information in regards to these two categories, visit https://www.irs.gov/coro…/non-filers-enter-payment-info-here.

WEARING A MASK
The CDC has several pieces of guidance that allow for wearing masks in public, including what type and the best method for making them. By definition, a mask is anything that can cover your nose and mouth while still allowing you to comfortably breathe.

As masks become more prevalent in our community, please be sure that your mask is being worn the right way – covering your nose and mouth. For additional guidance, visit:
→ https://www.cdc.gov/…/prevent-getting…/cloth-face-cover.html
→ https://www.cdc.gov/…/prevent…/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html

FREE DRIVE-THRU TESTING
Southeast Mississippi Rural Health Initiative, Inc. is offering free drive-thru testing at their Hattiesburg Family Health Center (66 Old Airport Road) on Wednesday, May 13 from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m.

No appointment is necessary and you do not have to have symptoms for a screening. For more information, call 601-658-0058.

GOV. REEVES’ EXEC. ORDER 1478
Mayor Barker and his administrative team are reviewing the latest order signed by Governor Reeves (issued today to take effect on Thursday, May 7 at 8 a.m.). Any changes at the local level will be communicated before the order takes effect on Thursday.

MAYOR BARKER’S DAILY BRIEFING
Below is the link to Mayor Barker’s briefing. He discusses today’s numbers, including an uptick in our 5-day new positive case average, hospitalizations and ICU admissions. To see the full briefing, visit https://www.facebook.com/tobybarkerMS/videos/165370544865964/


04/30/2020 | Hattiesburg Mayor Issues Guidance for Retail with new Executive Order

On Thursday, April 30, Mayor Toby Barker issued Executive Order 2020-5 to provide guidance to retail businesses regarding in-house capacity and masks.

“As we begin taking steps to reopen parts of Hattiesburg’s economy, we do so with a dual focus of prioritizing public health while giving the private sector space to operate creatively,” said Barker. “We have been able to hold down infection rates by engaging in social distancing and abiding by shelter-in-place orders. Now that we are beginning to get back out and have more frequent touchpoints with one another, it is important that we find ways to reduce the risk of community transmission. Wearing masks is a reasonable and responsible path forward. COVID-19 will continue to be a threat to our community for the foreseeable future. We must continue to protect vulnerable populations and prevent the overrun of our health care system, all while adjusting to our new normal.”

The order goes into effect at 5 p.m. on Friday, May 1 and expires at 8 a.m. on Sunday, May 31 – unless modified or rescinded by Barker.

To see the full release, click here.

04/29/2020 | Daily Update

Today’s update looks at the 5-day average of new positive cases for the Hattiesburg-Metro area.

The graph below depicting the 5-day average provides a glimpse at our local data for the Hattiesburg-Metro area, and also for what it means when you hear the words/phrases “peaked,” “flattening the curve,” or “slowing the spread.”

Today’s Numbers:

  • Forrest County: 198
  • Lamar County: 102
  • Metro Area: 300

Health Care System:

  • Current hospitalizations at both FGH and Merit for COVID-positive patients: 35 (14-day avg. 34.79)
  • Current ICU numbers for COVID-positive patients: 14 (14-day avg. 13.50)

Additionally – during today’s briefing with Mayor Toby Barker’s, he discusses these numbers more, the budget data behind the reduction in force decision, how we will move forward with retail businesses + masks, some city news and two acts of courage for our city. See the full briefing below:

04/27/2020 | Hattiesburg Begins Reduction in Force in Response to COVID-19

Due to projected shortfalls in sales tax revenues from COVID-19’s effect on the Hattiesburg economy, the City of Hattiesburg will experience a reduction in force beginning this week.

The city’s general fund is heavily dependent on the tax dollars generated from retail sales, and March numbers indicate a downturn (approximately 15%) for when the parts of the economy were shut down for less than half the month. That shortfall is anticipated to double for April.

“We have endeavored to be very transparent throughout the city’s response to COVID-19. We believe our employees and our citizens deserve to know the good, the bad and the difficult decisions we are making as a city throughout this public health crisis,” said Mayor Toby Barker. “This crisis has challenged us all, and this decision, while painful, is necessary.”

– CLICK TO READ THE FULL RELEASE –

For Mayor Barker’s briefing from today, see the video below:

04/24/2020 | Hattiesburg Relies on More Stringent Restrictions for Non-Essential Retail to Help Slow the Spread

To further slow the spread of COVID-19 in the Hattiesburg metro-area and with provisions from Governor Tate Reeves latest safer-at-home order, Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker is leaning on more stringent regulations for non-essential retail beginning Monday, April 27. Beginning at 8 a.m. on Monday, they can operate by drive-thru, pickup sales, curbside delivery or by appointment only – with no more than 10 customers in the building at a time.

“Governor Reeves has to take steps and set policies that are applicable to the entire state as a baseline. But his order also continues to give municipalities the ability to make more stringent decisions that work for the best interest of each community,” said Barker. “The data for our area simply doesn’t show we’re at a place where we’re comfortable with retailers allowing for half-capacity. For now, we’re deferring to Executive Order 2020-3 (issued March 17) which still allows for our non-essential retail businesses to creatively operate while we take the time needed to listen to our medical community, look at our own local data and hear from stakeholders so that we can chart the best path forward for our community.”

To read more, click here.

Mayor Barker’s Daily Briefing:

 

04/23/2020 | Daily Update

Today’s update includes a few notes about Mayor Toby Barker’s Community Working Group and a thank you to a very long list of incredible people in our community. Check it out below.

Mayor Barker’s Daily Briefing

In case you missed it last night, Mayor Barker announced his Community Working Group that will provide guidance on the path forward for Hattiesburg in response to COVID-19.

Mayor Barker discusses reflections from the group’s first call in today’s briefing. To view, see the video below:

To learn more about the working group, click here.

Thank You!

Since the beginning of March, several local restaurants and community leaders have stepped up to provide meals to City of Hattiesburg employees.

We appreciate all who have provided meals to our crews in public safety and city operations.

  • Dave Ware and Terry Johnson
  • Waffle House
  • Greater Antioch Missionary Baptist Church
  • Charlie Bevon
  • Flathua’s Fine Foods
  • Kent Oliver – Laughs for Life
  • Nancy Fine and Ann Palermo
  • Southbound Bagels
  • O’Charley’s
  • Eagle Flatts
  • Firehouse Subs
  • Scott Lowery
  • Small Cakes Hattiesburg
  • Qdoba
  • Smoothie King
  • Compadres
  • Burger Theory
  • Bud Holmes, Poncho James and Mugshots
  • Red Bull and Stokes Distributing
  • Timberton Sisters and Papa Johns
  • Wal-Mart

04/22/2020 | Mayor Barker Announces Working Group in COVID-19 Response

On Wednesday night, Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker addressed citizens via Facebook Live to announce a community working group as the next step in the city’s response to COVID-19. This working group will be tasked with identifying both the challenges and creative solutions in re-opening all facets of Hattiesburg after the shelter-in-place ends.

“As we have done with every decision, we try and see the landscape for what it is and what it could become. We try to put knowledgeable voices at the table, share information and get buy-in ahead of time,” said Barker. “This approach recognizes that one person or group does not have all the answers, and we are better when we solve problems together.”

The group includes leaders in the community across health care, government, tourism and hospitality, the private sector, faith-based and nonprofit organizations, and Hattiesburg representatives that were selected for Governor Tate Reeves Task Force.

For a full list of the group and more, click here.

To see the live announcement, check out the video below:

04/20/2020 | Daily Update

Today’s update includes a few notes about unemployment as directed by Governor Tate Reeves’ press conference today, information about curbside pickup at the Hattiesburg library, a helpline from Pine Grove Behavioral Health & Addiction Services and an additional way for you to give back to the community during this time.

Unemployment
Please note, that while we are sharing the information below about unemployment services for Mississippi residents – the City of Hattiesburg does not manage this program. If you have questions or concerns, send us a message and we’ll do our best to answer them or connect you with the best path forward.

Mississippi Department of Employment Security has experienced unprecedented traffic for unemployment claims. Due to this, they’ve increased the manpower for their call center and added a second line to help with questions and concerns while filing. The following information may be helpful in regard to filing for unemployment.

  • File a Claim: https://accessms.mdes.ms.gov/
  • If you have trouble filing a claim, you can contact the MDES Contact Center at 1-888-772-0061 or 1-888-844-3577 between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m., daily. Please be mindful that these lines have a high call volume.
  • If you have questions and cannot get through to the call center, the WIN Job Centers are also able to assist you by phone. For Forrest County, you can call 601-584-1202.
  • MDES has also provided a page of FAQs. We recommend looking through the list first to see if your question can easily be answered through that method: https://mdes.ms.gov/covid19?#COVID19WorkerFAQs

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)
In addition to standard unemployment filings, individuals who are unable to work because of COVID-19 can also apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). If you have already filed and been denied for regular unemployment since being out of work due to COVID-19, you do not have to file a new claim. You will be notified of your potential PUA eligibility and any additional action needed on your part.

If you have not filed a claim for unemployment benefits since off work due to COVID-19, you should file a claim online at www.mdes.ms.gov or call 1-833-919-0334 if you require assistance.

According to DMES, those who may be eligible include:

  • Self-employed individuals
  • Independent contractors
  • Persons employed by a church or religious entity
  • Employees of non-profit organizations
  • Gig economy workers

To learn more about eligibility or more about this process, visit https://mdes.ms.gov/…/covid19/pandemic-unemployment-assist…/.

Hattiesburg Library & Curbside Pickup
The Library of Hattiesburg, Petal, and Forrest County will resume curbside pickup on Wednesday, April 22. The service is available Monday – Saturday, 8 a.m. until 1 p.m.

To learn more: bit.ly/CurbSide.

1-888-574-HOPE | COVID-19 Stress & Anxiety Helpline
Pine Grove Behavioral Health & Addiction Services, one of the nation’s most comprehensive treatment campuses, is working to help Mississippi’s citizens during this pandemic by providing a free community support line related to COVID-19 Stress and Anxiety. This emotional support line is intended for adults ages 18 years old and older, and the number to call is 1-888-574-HOPE (4673). The support line hours of operation begin statewide on Monday, April 20th, 2020, and the line will be open and ready to accept calls daily from 8 AM to midnight, 12 AM.

Give Back
Because it’s #TheHattiesburgWay, there are several opportunities for you to give back to those directly affected by COVID-19. Below, we’re highlighting one of many.

The #BetterTogetherMS campaign is selling T-shirts to raise money for our community members who have been greatly affected by COVID-19 👉 https://bit.ly/2XSLCiS

All proceeds will go to The Mississippi Association of United Ways to fund COVID-19 relief efforts all over the state for households who have lost income due to measures taken to slow the spread of COVID-19.

04/20/2020 | Daily Update

For today’s update, Mayor Barker’s briefing addresses today’s numbers, a look at the curve (ft. a 5-day average), the shelter-in-place extension by Governor Reeves and a look at masks. To see the full video, click below.

04/17/2020 | Daily Update

Today’s update looks at the extended shelter-in-place order by Governor Tate Reeves, Mayor Barker’s daily briefing and mask distribution information.

Shelter-in-Place Order

Governor Tate Reeves extended the shelter-in-place order through Monday, April 27, 2020.
Three changes came with that update. Here is what you need to know:

  • Extension by 7 days (although it can be rescinded, modified or extended by Governor Reeves)
  • Public bodies of water (lakes, reservoirs, beaches) are now open for boating and fishing activities. However, social distancing measures and the gatherings rules (fewer than 10 at all times) still apply. All other group recreation venues, entertainment venues and parks (aside from walking trails) remain closed.
  • Non-essential retail businesses can operate by curbside, drive-thru or delivery only beginning Monday, April 20 at 8 a.m. Should businesses choose to open, they will still need to comply with Mayor Barker’s Executive Order 2020-4 which provides that all employees who work with the public or with multiple employees in the same space must wear a mask. According to the governor’s order, barbershops, salons, tattoo shops, nail salons, massage businesses, fitness centers/studios and gyms remain closed. This information can be found in his Executive Order 1473 and is dependent on prior orders (all linked above).

Mayor Barker’s Daily Briefing

Mayor Barker also delivered his daily briefing regarding today’s numbers. The full briefing can be seen below – but highlights are identified below the video.

High notes include:

  • The Hattiesburg-Metro area positive case numbers continue to climb.
  • Regardless of national or statewide narratives, COVID-19 doesn’t target one demographic or age group over another. It can have an adverse effect on anyone. Please continue to adhere to the guidelines set forth so that we can flatten the curve and slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community.
  • Today’s courage spotlight includes The USM Foundation’s latest campaign – the Eagle Relief Effort. This fundraising campaign will help all in The University of Southern Mississippi community who face financial hardships due to both COVID-19 and the Easter tornadoes. To donate, visit http://eaglefever.usm.edu. You will have many opportunities to give back to your community throughout our recovery of COVID-19, this is simply one more way to do just that.

Mask Distribution

Masks have been delivered/picked-up for almost all retailers who have kindly partnered with us to help us get masks in as many Pine Belt hands as possible.

Some stores have already started distributing them this evening (Friday). Some will begin tomorrow (Saturday) morning. Hours of operation are dependent on the retailer, and the masks are first-come-first-served.

For a full list of retailers, visit hattiesburgms.com/coronavirus/masks.

Should you not be able to locate a mask this weekend, reach out to us here through the inbox, at mayor@hattiesburgms.com or call 601-545-4501 during business hours. We’ll do what we can to help you out.

04/16/2020 | Daily Update

Thanks to the generosity of Jeremy Hirsch with Spartan Mosquito, 60,000 masks are available to the general public through a variety of private sector retailers and through the collaboration of the City of Hattiesburg, Lamar County and Forrest County.

The distribution process for this donation was established through targeting essential retail touchpoints (where people are already visiting due to essential needs – i.e. grocery stores, pharmacies, etc.), government and community facilities and working with partners in the faith-based sector and community nonprofits to reach vulnerable populations.

The goal throughout this endeavor is to make a mask available to those who don’t have one and to make sure everyone wears a mask if out in public.

When picking up a mask, residents are asked to remember the following guidelines:

  • Masks are available at retailer locations on a first-come-first-served basis. If a store is out of masks upon entrance, residents are asked to reach out to the City of Hattiesburg (601-545-4501 during business hours), on Facebook (facebook.com/CityofHattiesburg) or email (mayor@hattiesburgms.com) to assess the best place to receive one.
  • Residents are asked to not storm retail locations just to get a mask. If a resident doesn’t have one and needs to go to the grocery store or an essential retailer, it can be picked up.
  • Social distancing guidelines are still important – even with a mask.
  • While no limit will be imposed, residents should only take what is needed.
  • Don’t dispose after one use. These are cloth-based masks that meet CDC standards for fabric face covers and are reusable and washable.

Even with a generous donation of product and distribution through existing retailers, facilities and organizations, there still may be gaps that need to be filled. Should someone not be able to find a mask or need a mask, residents are asked to reach out to the City of Hattiesburg (601-545-4501 during business hours), on Facebook (facebook.com/CityofHattiesburg) or email (mayor@hattiesburgms.com) to assess the best way to pick up a mask.

Beginning this weekend, masks will be available at retail establishments and government facilities. The full list can be accessed by clicking here.

Today’s update also includes a briefing by Mayor Barker that looks at today’s case numbers, and he discusses the importance of the mask donation and distribution process. See the full video, below:

04/14/2020 | Daily Update

Public Schools Announcement
Governor Tate Reeves announced today that Mississippi Public Schools will not return to physical buildings this semester, but that distance learning will continue.
The City of Hattiesburg will continue to work with local school districts and private schools to help communicate any messages they have in regard to this matter.
School Meals
Hattiesburg Public School District will continue to provide
Grab-and-Go meals but they will only be available at Woodley Elementary, NR Burger and Hattiesburg High School. They are available Monday – Friday, from 10 a.m. until Noon. Curbside and walk-ups only.
  • Meals are free for ALL children 18 & under.
Programming & Resources
The Hattiesburg Parks & Recreation page will continue to host HAC Smart Space classes M/W/F at 9 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. City administration is also working with the Parks & Rec staff to bring more online programming to residents.
Additionally, wireless hotspot and online resources for learning and play can be accessed at http://www.hattiesburgms.com/coronavirus/k12schools/.
#HBURGWearsRed
Tomorrow – Wednesday, April 15 – is the city-wide effort for all to share their displays of red – helping to paint the city virtually.
All can join the #HBURGWearsRed movement by grabbing leftover Christmas ribbons and bows – or a simple red shirt – and share in the unified display of hope, faith and determination that Hattiesburg will get through this public health crisis.
To share displays of red, residents are asked to tag all social posts with #HBURGWearsRed.

04/13/2020 | Daily Update

The City of Hattiesburg extends its deepest thoughts and prayers to all who were affected by yesterday’s storms. We know the pain and sorrow that comes from a tornado leaving mass destruction in its path, but we also know the good that tends to rise in challenging times. We standby to assist however we can in the coming days and months.

Today’s update includes Mayor Barker’s briefing which provides updated numbers as of April 13, 2020, a reminder about masks, notes for city operations within the Sanitation and Solid Waste division of Public Works and collaborative efforts of giving back with Forrest General Hospital.

Mayor Barker’s Briefing:

Today’s numbers for the Greater Hattiesburg health care system (FGH, Hattiesburg Clinic, Merit Health Wesley and SEMRHI):

Total tests: 3,158
Positive tests: 318
Negative tests: 2,467
Pending: 373

Positive Tests:
Forrest County: 105
Lamar County: 38

Hospitalized patients – confirmed COVID positive: 26
Hospitalized patients – under investigation for COVID: 8

ICU patients – confirmed COVID positive: 14
ICU patients – under investigation for COVID: 0

Context: Today’s numbers are a reflection of the internal testing capacities that were implemented for facilities this past week. Being able to turn tests around faster has allowed for the pending case numbers to drop drastically.

 

Masks

Thanks to the many businesses and residents who complied over the weekend regarding our Executive Order for businesses – nonessential maintaining minimum operations and essential – and the recommendation for the general public to wear a mask.

Remember – a mask can be anything that covers your nose and mouth while still allowing you to comfortably breathe (bandana, scarf, homemade, n95 or surgical).

Garbage, Trash & Recycling Services

City services provided may look different while navigating this pandemic, particularly for the sanitation and solid waste division. Currently, there are 8 drivers and crew workers on paid administrative leave because of risk factors of either age or documented health condition.

Our directors have been creative in working across departments to make sure that basic garbage, trash, recycling and debris pickup can still occur; however, delays may occur.

If your can is missed, please reach out to us:

  • Action line: 601-545-4500
  • Mayor’s Office 601-545-4501 or mayor@hattiesburgms.com
  • Facebook.com/CityofHattiesburg
  • Facebook.com/TobyBarkerMS

#HBURGWearsRed

In the spirit of unity, determination, hope and faith through the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Hattiesburg is collaborating with Forrest General Hospital to display the color red on homes, mailboxes, trees or on your person. You can join the movement by grabbing your leftover Christmas ribbons and bows – or a simple red shirt. On Wednesday, April 15, 2020, we encourage all to share their displays of red – by helping us paint the city virtually. Share how you, your family or loved ones are displaying red by tagging all social posts with #HBURGWearsRed.

Saluting Sheroes & Heroes

In addition to showcasing your red, the City of Hattiesburg is teaming up with Forrest General Hospital and JMH Graphics to create a shirt in honor of our men and women on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

One hundred percent of proceeds from shirt sales will be used to purchase gift cards from local restaurants. Once the sale is complete, drawings will be conducted to give gift cards to Forrest General employees and first responders.

The Comfort Colors shirt, which is $20, is available in grey, blue, green, and red at www.forresthealth.org/hero. Sizes 2XL/3XL are $22. The deadline for online purchases is April 23. Shirts will be available for curbside pickup at JMH Graphics, 223 South 40th Ave., Hattiesburg.

 

04/09/2020 | Daily Update

Hattiesburg, today’s update includes further guidance on masks addressed in Mayor Barker’s Executive Order 2020-4, the #hburgwearsred project in collaboration with Forrest General Hospital and the potential for severe weather this weekend.

Executive Order 2020-4
Yesterday, Mayor Barker issued an executive order regarding guidance for masks in the business space. He also addresses masks and the general public. The highlights are below:

  • Employees in the same workspace as other employees…must wear masks
  • Employees in the same room as the public…must wear masks
  • All shelter in place and social distancing measures remain in effect.

Knowing that not every business is the same, any employee or business that needs guidance can call 601-545-4501, email mayor@hattiesburgms.com or message the City or Mayor Barker on Facebook.

What is a mask? It’s a face covering, including, but not limited to:

  • fabric masks
  • homemade linen or cloth masks
  • household dust mask
  • handkerchief
  • scarf
  • surgical mask
  • N95

In short, a mask can be anything that can cover your nose and mouth while still allowing you to comfortably breathe.

The city joins the CDC and the State Department of Health in recommending that if you go into a public space where other people are gathered…wear a mask.

For Mayor Barker’s latest briefing:

#HBURGWearsRed

Right now, red ribbons and other presentations of red are popping up in communities all across the country as a unified display of hope, faith and determination to show that we will get through this public health crisis. The color red is often associated with energy, strength, power and determination – all which embody #TheHattiesburgWay.

As a community, we will get through COVID-19 and we will be stronger for it. For these reasons and more, we are encouraging the community to join together to place a red ribbon on a tree or door at a home/ essential business or to wear red (even while at home) in solidarity for this effort.

Next Wednesday (April 15), the City of Hattiesburg will join Forrest General Hospital in promoting the effort by proudly wearing or displaying red throughout the city.

From red ribbon left over from the Christmas season to the red shirt in a closet, all can be repurposed for this initiative. Use the time between now and then to prepare and then on April 15, 2020 – citizens are encouraged to tag the most creative of efforts using what is on hand to display red in support with #HBURGWearsRed.

From a safe distance, we can all share the collective spirit of Hattiesburg’s hope, faith and determination.

Severe Weather Update

Unfortunately, the Hattiesburg area is forecasted for a severe weather outbreak possible Sunday morning through Sunday evening. Tornadoes are likely, some of which could be strong and long-tracked. Damaging wind gusts up to 70mph, large hail up to golf ball size, and locally heavy rainfall are also likely with the strongest storms.

The city will continue to work with Forrest County Emergency Management District to keep an eye on the forecast.


04/08/2020 | Executive Order 2020-4

On Wednesday, Mayor Toby Barker issued Executive Order 2020-4 to provide guidance to essential and non-essential businesses maintaining minimum operations regarding masks.

This order goes into effect on Friday, April 10 at 5 p.m. and will be enforced until April 30, 2020. It includes the following:

  • All employees of essential businesses and all employees of nonessential businesses that are open to maintain minimal operations shall wear a mask when working in or moving about the same workspace as other employees or working in or moving about the same room as the public.
  • For purposes of this executive order, “mask” shall be defined as any face covering; including, but not limited to, fabric masks, homemade linen or cloth masks, household dust masks, handkerchief, scarf, surgical mask or N95 masks.
  • The above order does not obligate an employer to purchase a certain type of mask.
  • The above rule shall not apply to “essential healthcare operations” as defined in Governor Reeves’ Executive Order 1463. These operations shall continue with protocols regarding personal protective equipment that adhere to CDC guidelines, medical best practices and institutional policy.
  • Nothing in this order shall prevent a business from implementing a more restrictive policy in terms of masks or others measures to contain and prevent transmission of COVID-19.
  • All social distancing requirements and limits on gatherings of more than 10 people from previous mayoral Executive Orders 2020-1, 2020-2 and 2020-3 – as well as Governor Reeves’ Executive Orders 1463 and 1466 – shall remain in effect.
  • This executive order shall be enforced, including penalties for the violation thereof as authorized by statute, by the Hattiesburg Police Department, the Hattiesburg Fire Department,
    other local enforcement or another city department.
In a video shared with social media, Mayor Toby Barker states:
“This is all about preventing the worst-case scenario because we know what that looks like,” said Barker. “We can look at other parts of the country who are in the throes of this – the worst parts of this. We can prevent that from happening in Hattiesburg and our surrounding areas if we just take practical responsible steps to slow the spread. Wear a mask while out, only do what is essential and stay home.”

Executive Order 2020-4, issued on April 8: http://www.hattiesburgms.com/wp-content/uploads/exec_order_2020-4.pdf
Executive Order 2020-3, issued on March 24: http://www.hattiesburgms.com/…/uploads/exec_order_2020-3.pdf
Executive Order 2020-2, issued on March 21: http://www.hattiesburgms.com/…/uploads/exec_order_2020-2.pdf
Executive Order 2020-1, issued on March 17: http://www.hattiesburgms.com/…/uploads/exec_order_2020-1.pdf

04/07/2020 | 

On the evening of Tuesday, April 7, Mayor Toby Barker and his administrative team learned that Kévin Jordan, the city’s housing coordinator in Urban Development, passed away due to COVID-19.
Jordan, 58, worked for the City of Hattiesburg for 13 years and was beloved by all coworkers.
A statement from Mayor Barker can be found below:
“Kévin Jordan believed in going the extra mile to help people, and many in our city benefitted from his compassion, work ethic and high standard of excellence. He treated his coworkers as family, and tonight, that family grieves for someone who cared deeply for all of us.”

 

 

 

 

04/07/2020 | Daily Update

Today’s update includes good news of innovation and a way for the community to collectively share support for one another.

#TheHattiesburgWay includes stepping outside of the box to solve problems with creative solutions. Over the course of the last few weeks, The University of Southern MississippiForrest General Hospital and Hattiesburg Clinic have collaborated on two fronts to fill gaps where needed – testing and masks.

To read the full stories – click the links below. Hats off to our medical and university community for their innovative and collaborative spirit.

USM Team Creates Respirator Mask to Aid Nationwide Deficit

“In so many ways, scientists at USM stepped up and forward when the healthcare community had a need,” said Dr. Stogner. “For example, we need special face masks for personal protection –and what did they do? They went to their labs—and what did we get—just what we needed!”

COVID-19 test shortage: How a clinic stayed local for solutions 

“The virus has unleashed a spectacular spirit of cooperation and creativity in our community,” said John Fitzpatrick, MD, nephrologist and president of Hattiesburg Clinic, the largest private multi-specialty clinic in Mississippi”

Show your red!
Right now, red ribbons and other presentations of red are popping up in communities all across the country as a unified display of hope, faith and determination to show that we will get through this public health crisis. The color red is often associated with energy, strength, power and determination – all which embody #TheHattiesburgWay.

As a community, we will get through COVID-19, and we will be stronger for it. For these reasons and more, Forrest General and the City of Hattiesburg are encouraging the community to join together to place a red ribbon on a tree, a mailbox or door at a home/essential business or to wear red (even while at home) in solidarity for this effort.

From red ribbon leftovers from the Christmas season to the red shirt in your closet, all can be repurposed for this initiative. To amplify the effort, we encourage you to share photos of how creative your family/colleagues or business is by using what is on hand to display red in support – tag us by using #hburgwearsred. From a safe distance, we can all share the collective spirit of Hattiesburg’s hope, faith and determination.

Additional details for a city-wide “day” for Hattiesburg will be shared soon. Let’s unite and show a symbol of hope to our health care teams, first responders and others as we stay home and stay stronger together.


04/06/2020 | Daily Update

Hattiesburg, we have a few updates for you today regarding shelter-in-place reminders, the Good Friday trash schedule and a hotline number from Pine Grove Behavioral Health. Lastly, you can see Mayor Barker’s latest video briefing at the end of this update.
Shelter-in-Place
Thanks to all who are adhering to the shelter-in-place order that went into effect on Friday, April 3 at 5 p.m. per the governor’s order. It’s going to take all of us to flatten the curve.
With that being said, we have a few notes for you as reminders:
  1. We realize going out for an essential need is a chance to “get out of the house” for a bit. However – no more than one person should go to the grocery store for essential needs unless it’s unavoidable (children with a parent, etc.). 

This isn’t an order, but it is really important in doing your part to help slow the spread. 

  2. On Friday, April 3 – the Center for Disease Control and Prevention passed down guidance for wearing masks while out doing essential business. This includes bandanas and homemade masks. They also shared best practices for making masks and how they should be worn.
While we know that N95s are the medical-grade gold standard, a mask – be it fabric, surgical or homemade, will help serve as a barrier. To learn more about the guidance and for tutorials on making your own, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html.
Holiday Collection Schedule
Due to the Good Friday holiday on Friday, April 10, the City of Hattiesburg will operate an abbreviated trash, garbage and recycling schedule. It can be accessed via: http://www.hattiesburgms.com/cityservices/holidayschedule/
Hattiesburg Historic Commission Public Hearing
The Historic Commission Public Hearing scheduled for Wednesday, April 8 at Noon will be available for the public to join virtually.
Accessible link: https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/188415477
Dial in using your phone: +1 (571) 317-3112
Access Code: 188-415-477
Pine Grove Emotional Support Line
Pine Grove Behavioral Health is providing public access to an emotional support line at 601-337-2215. This line is free and available to all community members (adults 18+) who are dealing with stress and anxiety that stems from COVID-10. The line is operational Monday – Friday, from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m.
Briefing from Mayor Barker
Mayor Toby Barker discusses numbers for today across the Hattiesburg-area health care system (Forrest Health, Hattiesburg Clinic, Merit Health Wesley and Southeast MS Rural Health), essential tasks and personal responsibility. To see the full video briefing, visit https://www.facebook.com/tobybarkerMS/videos/201929807924320/ or see the embeded video below:

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 http://www.hattiesburgms.com/wp-content/uploads/shelter_8x10doc_faq.pdf.

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.

Second Positive Case

Early yesterday evening, our administrative team learned that an employee in Urban Development tested positive for COVID-19. The individual is currently hospitalized and has not been at work since Tuesday, March 31.

All in the employee’s division have been notified of the presumptive positive test and will be tested for COVID-19. Because of the nature of the employee’s work at City Hall and out of an abundance of caution, a COVID-19 test is being offered to all employees in City Hall who choose to be tested.

As an update to Monday’s news of the employee in Public Works who tested positive for COVID-19 – the first round of tests for employees in that division have tentatively come back negative. We are awaiting results from a second batch of tests and a final report to be able to share publicly.


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 mayor@hattiesburgms.com.
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 hattiesburgms.com/.
  • 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 hattiesburgms.com/action-line.
  • 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.
WHAT IS A SHELTER IN PLACE ORDER?
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.
HOW WILL THINGS BE DIFFERENT NOW IN HATTIESBURG VERSUS WHAT THEY HAVE BEEN OVER THE PAST WEEK OR TWO?
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.
HOW LONG IS THE ORDER FOR:
5 p.m. on Friday, April 3, 2020 – 8 a.m. on Monday, April 20, 2020 – unless rescinded, modified or extended.
WILL IT BE ENFORCED?
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 hattiesburgms.com/coronavirus
For those not in compliance, business names can be emailed to mayor@hattiesburgms.com or call 601-545-4501.
WHAT CAN I DO – ASIDE FROM STAYING HOME?
WHAT CAN I NOT DO?
  • 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.
WHAT IS CLOSED?
  • 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.
WHAT IS ESSENTIAL?
  • 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 (http://www.hattiesburgms.com/wp-content/uploads/Reeves_Order_1466.pdf) or by CISA (https://www.cisa.gov/sites/default/files/publications/CISA_Guidance_on_the_Essential_Critical_Infrastructure_Workforce_Version_2.0_Updated.pdf)..
  • 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.
IF YOU DO HAVE TO TAKE PART IN ESSENTIAL ACTIVITIES, HERE IS HOW YOU MAINTAIN HEALTHY STANDARDS:
  • 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.

VIDEO FAQ WITH MAYOR BARKER:


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 irs.gov/coronavirus 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 IRS.gov/coronavirus 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 hattiesburgms.com/coronavirus.


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 http://www.hattiesburgms.com/coronavirus/k12schools/.
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 healthyms.com/covid19. To track the numbers for the Forrest General Hospital/Forrest Health System, visit https://fhcovid19.com/. 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 http://www.curbsidecovid.com/.

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 hattiesburgms.com/coronavirus/churches.

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 hattiesburgms.com/coronavirus/biz.
  • 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 bit.ly/hburgtipjar. 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 hattiesburgstrong.com. 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 pwingo@hattiesburgms.com 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 www.hattiesburgms.com/community-development 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 http://www.hattiesburgms.com/coronavirus/k12schools/.

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 redcrossblood.org 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 —> https://www.xpress-pay.com/cart.asp?t=330442020032421260323989

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: http://www.hattiesburgms.com/news-updates/mayor-barker-provides-further-guidance-to-businesses-in-response-to-covid-19/

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 www.mdes.ms.gov 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 redcrossblood.org 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 https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela. Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov 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:

UNEMPLOYMENT SERVICES
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.

FGH BLOOD DRIVE
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.

CHURCH SERVICES
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 mayor@hattiesburgms.com.

MYTHS & RUMORS
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 mayor@hattiesburgms.com.

SCHOOLS & FEEDING SITES
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 hattiesburgms.com/coronavirus/needs. 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 hattiesburgms.com/coronavirus/biz

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 (tdemuth@mema.ms.gov).

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 mayor@hattiesburgms.com.

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.

RELEASE FROM FORREST GENERL HOSPITAL:
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 ForrestHealth.org/covid19.

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 http://hattiesburgms.com/coronavirus  or http://forrestcountyms.us.

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.

READ MORE

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.

READ MORE

 

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.”


LINK TO FULL STORY WITH PHOTO/VIDEO.


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.