Oktibbeha County EMA hands out free mask to protect against COVID-19

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OKTIBBEHA  COUNTY, MISS. (WCBI) – With parts of the region having to deal with hurricane Sally in addition to the ongoing pandemic, it’s fitting that September is national emergency preparedness month.

More than 1,700 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in Oktibbeha County, worse 49 people have died.

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Given the uncertainty of the virus’s future, county officials say that face masks should now be a staple of any emergency preparedness kit.

“We’re all frustrated with everything that’s going on but personal preparedness is everybody’s responsibility, so I just think everybody needs to do their part.”

The Oktibbeha County Emergency management team was doing their part Wednesday afternoon, handing out free masks to members of the community as part of the ongoing fight against COVID-19.

“Everybody that wants a mask probably has one, but these being individually packaged, they’re a good way to store them in your kit in case that disaster or emergency occurs.”

County workers handed out two packs of five washable cloth masks per car. This included care instructions.

The Emergency Agency has given away about 38,000 masks since June and had about 7,000 more they wanted to distribute today.

Emergency Management Director Kristen Campanella, also wants to remind residents that just having a mask doesn’t do you any good if you aren’t using it correctly.

“I think the biggest hang up for me is that I do see some that are wearing masks but are not wearing them properly,” said Campanella. “So if you’re not wearing them to cover your nose, face and your mouth, you’re not being effective with the mask.”

Chelsea Carr is one of the several community members grateful for the free masks, especially since the Mississippi Department of Health reports her age group of 18-29 year-olds has the highest concentration of positive coronavirus cases in Oktibbeha County.

“I am young so, everybody’s having parties with the COVID so I try not to go out too much,” said Carr

“Everybody mask up!”

The EMA also gave out information on how best to stay prepared in the even of a disaster, such as guidelines on what to put in a family emergency kit.

And Campanella wants to remind everyone to have some type of face coverings for their kit.