Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba. Image: City of Jackson

In a press briefing today from the City of Jackson, Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said the City is expanding COVID-19 testing through the purchase of 6,000 tests.

Five thousand of those tests will be administered in partnership with Jackson-Hinds Comprehensive Health. One thousand of those will be utilized to prioritize first responder testing and testing for inmates at the Hinds County Jail through an interlocal agreement with Hinds County. The mayor noted these inmates as a “vulnerable population based on the confines in which they live.”

Mayor Lumumba also said that hazard pay would be issued by the end of the month to first responders employed by the City of Jackson.

“We are well aware that, not only have we had unfortunate circumstances of our first responders contracting the virus, but, nationwide, they are disproportionally affected, dealing with people with a high suspicion of having the virus,” he added.

The City of Jackson has entered into an agreement with a local hotel partner to provide rooms for citizens in need of quarantine. Residents who have contracted the virus or are concerned with passing the virus on to loved ones will receive priority. Lumumba declined to name the property for fear of violating patient rights or stigmatizing the individuals or the hotel property.

Finally, Mayor Lumumba said the City has purchased a symptom tracker software program to coordinate their response with those infected with the virus. A hotline has been established and will go live Friday, where residents can call if they are experiencing symptoms like fever, a dry cough and shortness of breath. The Mayor pointed those who hope to utilize the service to the City’s website for more details, under the section “Fight Together, Stand Apart.”

“In collecting that data, we will be able to identify hot spots and coordinate relief efforts to those communities that may have a disproportionate rate of infection in the community,” the mayor said.  He noted that HIPA rights would be protected as the City works with medical professionals.

The City continues to ask that residents abide by the shelter-in-place order that took effect last week and maintain social distance when in public spaces.

“Violators (of the shelter-in-place order) have been discovered,” he said, “and citations issued. We are taking this very seriously, and we will be most vigilant in the upcoming week.”

When residents do go out for essentials, Lumumba encouraged the wearing of masks (recommended by the Centers for Disease Control).

“This is considered one of most critical weeks in this nationwide fight,” he said. “This may be the week we hit the highest number of cases and the peak. This virus is serious. For many without underlying conditions, the rate of getting over the virus and back to full health is good. However, those among us with underlying conditions and those above a certain age are suffering disproportionately.”