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Mayor Lumumba looking at making COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for city employees

Mayor Lumumba will host his weekly media availability to provide regular updates related to...
Mayor Lumumba will host his weekly media availability to provide regular updates related to City issues and initiatives and answer questions from the news media.(WLBT)
Published: Aug. 2, 2021 at 12:59 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said the city is considering several steps to address rising COVID-19 numbers, including mandating that all city employees get vaccinated.

The mayor discussed the ongoing pandemic during a press conference Monday.

He said he was planning to meet with his COVID-19 task force to discuss the city’s next steps and said that “various things are on the table.”

He said among options, the administration is looking at what other cities are doing, including mandating employees take the shot.

“I know the city of New Orleans just did that and some other cities,” he said. “I’m not prepared to make an announcement (for the direction we will go) at the time.”

Before any decisions were made, Lumumba would go to the task force and would ask the necessary questions.

Jackson had 1,765 employees according to its 2019 audit, the latest audit available.

“As it has been reported quite extensively, COVID numbers are up nationwide. They are up in Hinds County. In the worst moments before the vaccine in January, we saw about a 19 percent positivity rate. Hinds County’s positivity rate now sits at 21.5 percent,” he said. “The ICU capacity for Hinds County is at 87 percent.

“To say that we are still in a very difficult place and that the threat still looms large would be an understatement.”

In the light of rising numbers, he said the city would be stepping up enforcement of Jackson’s mask mandate.

“Jackson has never relinquished its mask mandate. We talked about the potential of doing so when numbers were beginning (to go down),” he said. “However the enforcement on masks being worn has been somewhat lax. I want our residents to know and our businesses to know we will be stepping up enforcement.”

The mayor didn’t say how Jackson would be stepping up those efforts.

A year ago, Lumumba said Jackson would issue citations to people for failing to wear face coverings. Commercial entities and businesses, meanwhile, could face closure for not requiring patrons to mask up.

However, a WLBT investigation showed that the mandate was rarely enforced.

Cities across the country have already mandated employees to get vaccinated or face serial testing. Other municipalities to mandate the shots include Los Angeles, New York, and Denver. President Joe Biden is also mandating that all federal workers receive the vaccine.

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