Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Winston County, Local Cities and Health Care Working to Battle COVID-19

Any emergency situation calls for teamwork. To provide a better understanding of how our community is working as a team to combat COVID-19, we offer some insight into how and who is part of that team.

There is a group working closely together for Winston County during the current pandemic. Even before the Governor declared a state of emergency, plans were in place to address the issues that were certain to develop. Dealing with the aftermath of the tornado in 2014, provided the key framework for dealing with this crisis.

An Incident Management Team (IMT), following guidelines established by the Mississippi Department of Health’s Office of Emergency Planning and Response, was quickly in place - spearheaded by local Emergency Management, political leaders (including the president of the Board of Supervisors, mayors) law enforcement, local officials, media and of course, our medical professionals. IMT is meeting on a daily basis by conference call to coordinate efforts across the county. IMT is working to provide information, local and state resources and supplies to the areas of need and to advise our local leaders to protect the safety of our community.

There are 14 members of IMT and they are strongly supported by a bevy of volunteers and first responders.  Winston County EMA Director, Buddy King, serves as the Incident Commander and answers directly to the President of the Board of Supervisors, Louisville’s Mayor and the CEO of Winston Medical Center. Functions and areas of responsibility include: planning, operations, logistics, finance, safety, medical services and public information. 

In a situation such as this, our medical professionals take the lead. The Winston County Board of Supervisors recently appointed Dr. Dustin Gentry as the Winston County Medical Director to help coordinate response efforts.  Additional assistance is provided by Cornelia Coburn, a Winston County native and a health services expert.  Providing the absolute best medical response to the pandemic and protecting the health of our citizens and health care workers is a priority. Coordinating with Winston Medical Center, the Winston County Health Department and other health care providers is key to our local response.

As with any emergency, there are legal and practical issues that must be considered. Decisions are not made lightly. IMT builds upon state and federal guidelines and ever-changing information but also considers local needs in its decision-making process.

Information is key. It is extremely important for the public to get their information from reliable sources. Social media is exploding with inaccurate, misleading posts and conjecture. The best way to combat misinformation – look only to reliable sources and don’t repost info that doesn’t come from these sources.

IMT is coordinating with local media and Winston Medical Center to get accurate and up to date info to our citizens.  At a local level, these are the sources that you should depend upon:

WLSM Radio

For more information, you should also visit the following websites:



IMT works closely with MEMA and the Mississippi Department of Health. MEMA provided the following “talking points” to share with the public across the state:

·       Currently there is not a mandatory stay-home order. We ask folks to avoid crowds and frequently wash their hand.
·       Healthcare workers will be our top priority when receiving supplies along with first responders.
·       If you see the National Guard, they are assisting with delivering supplies, doing humanitarian service to help MSDH and MEMA
·       MEMA and MSDH are working to send out more supplies this week. County EMA will receive a shipment to disperse to first responders, hospitals will receive a shipment and long-term care facilities will receive a shipment.
·       We ask people not to hoard food. This is to ensure everyone has access to the supplies they need. There is not a food shortage. The overwhelming demand has slowed the process of getting food back on the shelves.
·       Daycares and businesses can choose to close on their own. At this time there is no mandatory order to do so.
·       Small businesses that are impacted economically can apply for an “economic disaster loan” https://www.msema.org/news/sba-declares-economic-disaster-for-mississippi-due-to-covid-19/
·       They will have to apply online for SBA assistance
·       There is a list of testing sites available at msema.org and msdh’s website
  • Please call the COVID-19 Hotline for your questions: 877-978-6453