Jackson City Council considering cutting out public comments at meetings, citing rising COVID-19 cases

Jackson City Council considering cutting out public comments at meetings, citing rising COVID-19 cases
Jackson City Council file photo.

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - With rising COVID-19 cases, the Jackson City Council is again considering cutting out public comment at meetings.

At a special called meeting Thursday, the council will take up a measure to temporarily suspend public comment, proclamations, special presentations, commendations and resolutions honoring individuals, businesses and groups.

The measure also would again limit capacity at meetings, which had previously been raised when COVID-19 numbers fell early in the summer.

“The last time we took this order up was in March, when there was a real high COVID spike,” said Council President Aaron Banks. “We lifted some of the restrictions when things got better, but unfortunately they are getting worse. Numbers are spiking.”

The news comes days after Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba announced that he was again considering an executive order to require city employees to work remotely, and as coronavirus cases across the state rocket up.

The Mississippi State Department of Health reported 2,457 new cases on Wednesday, the highest one-day total since the pandemic began.

“This is a serious epidemic that we have to take seriously,” Banks said. “That’s just where we are. We’re not restricting anyone from having free speech. We’re just being cautious and making sure that we keep people safe.

“The only reason there have been restrictions and a limited amount of people speaking is due to COVID,” he said.

Banks went on to add that one council member and one city official recently tested positive for the virus.

“It just looks like we’re going to have to scale back,” Banks said. “We have an obligation to protect city employees and the city of Jackson.”

The meeting is slated for 10 a.m., Thursday, December 3, at Jackson City Hall and will be broadcast on the city’s website.

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