Mayor May End Business Limits, But Keep Mask Mandate; Fire Cause Unknown | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Mayor May End Business Limits, But Keep Mask Mandate; Fire Cause Unknown

Mayor Chokwe A. Lumumba said at a media briefing on Monday, May 3, that he is planning to lift COVID-19 pandemic capacity restriction on businesses soon.  Photo courtesy City of Jackson

Mayor Chokwe A. Lumumba said at a media briefing on Monday, May 3, that he is planning to lift COVID-19 pandemic capacity restriction on businesses soon. Photo courtesy City of Jackson

While the capital city has improved COVID-19 numbers, it is too early to declare victory over the virus, Mayor Chokwe A. Lumumba said at a press conference Monday.

"As we are entering into the summer months (with) businesses opening up again, and everyone is ready to get outside, I want everyone to please recognize that we are not 100% past this pandemic," he said.

The mayor explained that new variants of the virus are still threatening both the nation and the world. He encouraged everyone qualified to get the vaccine. While sounding a cautionary tone, Lumumba said he might move to end all business-capacity restrictions as soon as this week. He will, however, not remove the mask mandate.

"We will at this particular moment in time maintain our mask requirement," Lumumba said. "I also want to encourage everyone 16 years of age and older to be vaccinated; the way that we're going to be able to get to the activities, the things that we enjoy (is) for people to get vaccinated."

"I know that we are all eager to drop the mask, and so we will move in that direction as soon as we think it is advisable to do so," he explained. "But in order to recognize the progress that has been made in order to recognize the benefit that could be derived for our local economy, we want to drop those restrictions that are still in place now in terms of capacity."

Cause of O.B. Curtis Fire Still Unknown

Jackson Public Works Director Charles Williams said that the cause of the fire on Friday, April 30, at the O.B. Curtis Water Treatment Plant is yet unknown.

"We are still investigating the electrical fire. We hope to have some information shortly,” he told the media. “(That) will have to take place after we remove the control panel and then really do a thorough investigation of what possibly could have happened."

City workers shut the water plant down to contain the fire and brought it back online by noon that day, and sent out a boil-water notice after the pressure dropped in the system. The health department gave an all-clear on Monday for the water after the pressure built back up.

"For the past two days, we've been working to get water out into the distribution system in order to improve the pressure. We are currently around 85 PSI," Williams added. "Our storage tanks are starting to be replenished. So we're able to sustain that pressure a little, continue these improvements over the next couple of days, as we continue to move forward."

Jackson’s water supply was disrupted in February as the winter storm shut down the plant as the temperature dipped across the city.

May as Fitness Month

The mayor proclaimed May 2021 as the national fitness and sports month at the same press briefing. The proclamation highlighted the various ways in which Mississippi lags in fitness indicators nationwide and encourages people to engage in physical-fitness exercises.

Lumumba recognized Ward 5 resident Regina Anderson at the press conference for suggesting at the April 13 city council meeting that the City make the proclamation.

"We've been closed in over a year, a lot of us. We need to get these kids back outside, out of these cell phones and (out in) nature and some of us adults, too," Anderson said while calling to comment at that meeting. "National physical fitness and sports month—I think it's very important at (this) time."

The mayor, who said the suggestion is in line with his administration's plan to have healthy citizens, said he may perform exercise routines during the remaining press conferences he will hold in the month.

"it's not going to start today, but I'm going to make a concerted effort to do at least one physical exercise throughout the month of May for the remainder of our press conferences. So I might be doing some jumping jacks. I might see if I can get the media to join me," he said.

"[W]e're going to have fun with this with the purpose of being educational with the purpose of trying to support our residents to make healthy choices, support our residents to live healthier lifestyles.”

The proclamation read at the start of the briefing encouraged the citizens to talk to their physicians on physical activity and how it helps "treat or prevent numerous chronic conditions such as hypertension, cardiac disease and diabetes."

"Mississippi is among the most challenged states in the nation when it comes to health disparities and healthy lifestyles," it said. "[A]ll healthcare providers are encouraged to talk to their patients about the health benefits of exercising and can strongly recommend that their patients exercise appropriately.

"Regular physical activity and moderate intensity exercise are indeed a powerful prescription and have curative and protective health benefits with great potential to improve the health and quality of life of all Americans."

Email story tips to city/county reporter Kayode Crown at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @kayodecrown.

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