Who would have thought that during 2020 we would have to deal with a national pandemic?
In January 2020, the City of Oxford’s Emergency Management Director Jimmy Allgood began to anticipate the challenges Covid-19 could bring to our community. My administration drafted an Infectious Disease Handbook that addressed the role of each one of the City’s departments, and how they would operate under low, medium and high risk. Little did we know in February that this would guide the next year of our life.
In early March, I put together a team of medical leaders, hospital administrators, clinic and urgent care directors, and State Health Officials that would be our resource along with our Emergency Management Director as we developed the measures our community needed to take to protect our residents and our business community. Advice from these trusted health care officials and data have driven the actions of the Board of Aldermen over the past year.
Along with my team, we developed a Serving Oxford Safely plan in March as a way forward for our small businesses. Balancing lives and livelihoods during a pandemic – with no real history upon which to rely – has been challenging at best, but my staff and I have given it all we had… We have made the best recommendations and decisions we could using data and information from healthcare professionals, common sense, and compassion for both our residents and businesses.
From free hand sanitizer to transitioning Double Decker t-shirts into more than 7,500 masks that were distributed to the community, we looked for ways to meet our citizens where they needed us. Under my administration, City of Oxford Employees staffed the Pantry, set up a hotline along with community churches to deliver groceries or run errands for those who could not get out, and Oxford Police Officers worked at local grocery stores during Senior Citizen shopping hours to assist.
Along with preparing for and trying to manage the day-to-day issues of a national pandemic, our Emergency Management Director dealt with flooding and storm damage that required MEMA and FEMA involvement. The City of Oxford applied for and received hazard mitigation funds to cover most of these costs.
Looking forward, we will continue to maintain an inventory of emergency supplies and work with local health care professionals and Baptist Memorial Hospital – North Mississippi as we await vaccinations for Covid-19.