The Mississippi Department of Health reported Carroll County’s first case of Coronavirus last week, with a second case being reported Wednesday. As of Tuesday, six counties in Mississippi had not had any reports of Coronavirus. The hardest-hit counties are counties that are more rural and, like Carroll County, may not readily have access to hospitals or clinics.
Civil Defense and Emergency Management Director Ken Strachan said he asked how the Department of Health was able to tell where a person was located if their address was from a postal zip code in another county.
Strachan said the county has people who receive mail from postal zip codes in Montgomery, Carroll, Holmes, and Attala counties, and because Carroll County does not have a hospital, it may be difficult to tell what county they reside.
“I asked that. They (state health officials) said they ask people when they come in what county they live in, and they will document that,” Strachan said.
He told the board of supervisors that there is only one reported case of the Coronavirus in the county.
“When it comes to our county task force, Ken is pretty much it, right?” Supervisor Jim Neill said.
Strachan said he is, but he works with other agencies, and they share information. He said Carroll County is taking every precaution.
“We’re doing everything we can do,” Strachan said. He said as a whole, the state is in it together. “We’re all in the whole boat together.” He said there’s been a steady uptick in numbers, and it may be worse before it gets better.
“Y’all know everything I know,” Strachan said. “We’re in the whole boat together.”
Also, the board approved a public records request policy that goes into effect immediately. Board attorney Kevin Horan said before when people wanted public information, they would send an e-mail to one of the clerks instead of the department head.
You can no longer do that with the new public records request. All public requests must go to the department heads – Chancery Clerk Casey Carpenter, Circuit Clerk Durward Stanton, Tax Assessor Wilton Neal, Sheriff Clint Walker, Justice Court Judges Jimmy Avant and Tinesha Erve-Ernest, Supervisors Rickie Corley, Claude Fluker, Josh Hurst, Jim Neill, and Dill Tucker – first, and they will send the request to Horan.
He said the request must be approved by the department heads first.
“Then I’ll decide if it’s something they can handle or if it needs more legal action taken,” Horan said. “But, the policy must be strictly adhered to. There is in deviating from it.”
He said the policy is universal and will be used for all departments. Horan said the policy gives the department heads seven days to get whatever the requested information is together, and there must be payment before any information is released.
Horan said he’s been dealing with the ethics commission, and not having a policy like this in place has “came back and bit us in the butt.”
“Because you have people responding, and I know they are being nice, but they’re responding, and they don’t have the authority to respond, and it’s getting us in trouble,” he said.
Hurst asked if someone comes in for a copy of a land deed is that public records request.
“No,” Horan said. “That’s not a record’s request.”
He said the records request is similar to several other counties that have one in place.
Circuit Clerk Durward Stanton said without one, the county was under stricter guidelines.
“We would only have a day to fill the request, whatever it is,” he said.
“This gives us more time to get the information together,” Carpenter added