Southaven Mayor Darren Musselwhite wrote this letter that we retrieved from the City of Southaven’s website:  “Throughout this crisis, I’ve informed my citizens that, along with my team of advisers, department heads, and Board of Aldermen, I continue to evaluate and re-assess all information as it becomes available, specifically real-time behaviors of people and actual impacts of the COVID-19 Virus.  This is an ever-changing process daily, and sometimes even by the minute.

I’m humbly honored to serve the people of Southaven as Mayor, in good times and in bad, and I mean no disrespect to any of my citizens, or any people, in general, with my following statements, but I need people to listen to me now.

We are in a very dangerous situation!  Too many people are not taking this risk seriously enough, which is jeopardizing health and safety for all of us!

Listen to me, for those of you who keep quoting worldwide, national, or even state statistics and making light of this matter, let me point out that the risk in every community is not the same.  I’ve gathered information from any source I can get my hands and ears on, including our local physicians.  Those statistics are an aggregate and do not reflect the risk for more densely-populated communities, nor the limited amount of healthcare resources in varying areas.  This virus does not know state boundaries or any boundaries at all!  Southaven and Desoto County have a tremendously-greater risk because of the Memphis-Metro population density.  We also have a limited amount of healthcare options, including doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals should our numbers needing treatment get to a certain level.

Again, as I’ve stated consistently, there is no need to panic and we will get through this, but time is critical and we’ve got to be smart and minimize the rate of spread of this virus!

For this reason, BY THE EXECUTIVE AUTHORITY VESTED IN ME AS MAYOR OF SOUTHAVEN, I DO PROCLAIM THIS “STAY-AWAY ORDER” EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY FOR ALL PERSONS IN THE CITY OF SOUTHAVEN TO ADHERE TO THE CIVIL EMERGENCY ORDINANCE PASSED BY THE CITY’S BOARD OF ALDERMEN ON SUNDAY, MARCH 22, 2020 and will use any and all resources available to enforce this order.

All details of the Civil Emergency Ordinance may be viewed easily in the proclamation on the front page of the City’s website at www.southaven.org.

Now, for those that question why I’ve not ordered a “Shelter-in-Place”, “Stay-at-Home”, or similar order.  Think about it with me, the common denominator for everyone with this risk minimization is not where you are, but instead physical gatherings with other people and making physical contact with heavily-frequented places.  Thus, I think the more appropriate term for the strategy is “Stay-Away”.  People need to be able to get out of their homes, enjoy the outdoors, or even take a drive.  You don’t have to stay home, but it’s imperative that you stay away from other people and facilities.  The old adage from the ‘90s applies today, “You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here!”  Laugh with me, just a little.J

Furthermore, I understand that this defined risk exists in essential places and operations as well, but I cannot tell people not to get food, medicine, gasoline, hardware, telecommunication equipment, and other essential professional services supplies and household goods.  In addition, there must be production and distribution of goods to meet these essential needs of life, including the transportation of these products. Specifically, it gets almost impossible, at least impractical, to define essential retail operations since most provide an array of products, many of which are essential as noted previously.  Before you ask, I will agree that clothing-only retailers are not essential in the short-term.  Most have already taken significant actions themselves to minimize risk.

The other fact of this matter is that a municipality does not have the resources to realistically enforce people to stay at home.  Honestly, I cringe while thinking about what that would look like!  Something of this magnitude would require state or federal assistance.  This is not my call.  I will remind again, however, what is my call and that we do have the resources to enforce the “Stay-Away Order” and will do so.

We will get through this, but please join me in doing all we can do to get through it without losing any of the people we love.

Listen to me, stay calm; stay positive; stay home as much as you can; and stay smart!

With the most concern and respect…”

Mayor Darren Musselwhite