Following the lead of the federal government on Friday afternoon, Forrest County Board of Supervisors 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with Section 33-15-17(d), Mississippi Code of 1972, and shall be reviewed every 30 days until such a local emergency is no longer in effect.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.