During a special called meeting of the Greenville City Council on Wednesday, mayor Errick Simmons and the council reactivated the city wide curfew from 12 a.m. to 5 a.m., effective immediately.
The reactivation of the curfew comes as there has been a surge of COVID-19 cases in the city of Greenville and several reports of large gatherings throughout the city’s recreational venues such as parks, pavilions, baseball fields, basketball courts and the like.
As a preventative measure, the city’s parks are now closed along with basketball courts, baseball fields, outdoor pavilions and playgrounds until further notice from the Greenville City Council.
Ward 4 Councilwoman Lurann Thomas vehemently expressed her concern for the frequent gatherings that have been taking place in the city’s parks and other recreational facilities, as well as funerals.
“It’s getting worse every weekend, especially with people not practicing social distancing,” Thomas said.
Simmons inquired of Parks and Recreation director Corey Holmes his feelings on how to better combat the spread of COVID-19 in light of the large gatherings taking place at recreational settings.
“Well I agree with Councilwoman (Thomas) about the gatherings,” Holmes said. “I’d like to see us pretty much go back to Phase I when we closed down the playgrounds and the basketball courts and everything because nobody is practicing social distancing. People are just gathering and the numbers are getting larger and larger as they come out, so, I just want to take preventive measures to make sure we’re keeping our community safe.”
Holmes pointed out people at the golf course have been adhering to the social distancing guidelines, but the city-wide golf tournament would likely have to be cancelled.
Holmes also noted the likeliness of needing more enforcement with the help of Chief Delando Wilson and the police department to regulate crowds at those recreational settings.
Simmons also asked Wilson to offer his thoughts on putting the midnight to 5 a.m. curfew back in place.
Wilson shared that one problem was the operation of certain nightclubs noting that on at least one occasion, the venue had to be cleared out because it was beyond capacity, even for a normal night.
“I think it would help, especially looking at the number. I know our numbers are increasing exponentially so I think that may be an option for at least two weeks,” Wilson said of enforcing the curfew.
Greenville Fire Department Chief Ruben Brown said the department is still conducting business inspections while using gloves and masks and practicing social distancing.
Fire program presentations are not being given at the moment but smoke alarms are still being installed.
He informed the mayor and council of one firefighter who tested positive for COVID-19 and is currently in quarantine.
Simmons said his concern is one shared throughout the state as it pertains to the number of intensive care unit (ICU) beds available in the state’s largest hospitals.
“We’re at a point now if we have a major accident like we just had on Highway 82 and Highway 1 the other day, if they try to go to UMMC, Baptist or Merit Health in North Mississippi, those places don’t have ICU beds,” Simmons said. “A large number of cases across the state is only increasing the possibility of us not having more beds; if a person has to go to the hospital and get on a ventilator, where can they go?”
Simmons also said in a statement released Wednesday afternoon, “It remains the city of Greenville’s goal to protect and save lives during this pandemic. The rise in COVID-19 confirmed cases has caused the Greenville City Council to reactivate stricter rules and measures in order to reduce the spread.”
Simmons urged residents to restrict movement to only necessary services, tasks and activities.
Unless one must go to work, church, the grocery store, pick up medicine, visit a loved one and do other essential things, Simmons stressed that residents need to stay home.