Vardaman city hall shuts down after unvaccinated employees test positive for Delta variant, mayor says low vaccination rate is a problem
VARDAMAN, Miss. (WCBI) – In the small town of Vardaman, COVID-19 has shut down city hall until further notice. Mayor James Casey says the decision came Monday after the city clerk and assistant clerk both tested positive for the Delta variant over the past five days after returning from trips to Biloxi and Destin, Florida. “(One of them) texted me this morning and said it’s the worst thing she’s ever had,” The mayor says. “Both of them are real sick.” Neither one had been vaccinated. “We’ve got a lot of younger people that are just not doing it,” Mayor Casey says. “We’ve got a lot of younger people that’s getting the virus too.” Vardaman is one of the seven cities that make up Calhoun County, which the Mississippi State Department of Health says has experienced 1,832 cases of COVID-19. Only 27 percent of Calhoun County’s population is fully vaccinated, per MSDH.
“I am fully vaccinated but if I have to, I will wear a mask,” says Vardaman resident Anne Marshall. “Because I don’t want the stuff.” Marshall says doesn’t even recall city hall completely shutting down during 2020. “It kind of surprised me when I heard it yesterday that they were closed because of the COVID,” she says. “They got it after they quit wearing masks.” She was one of several residents who came by to drop off their water bills outside the building Tuesday morning. “It’s a bad time of the month with water bills coming in right now,” Mayor Casey says. “It’s a bad time of the month and I’m sorry for the inconvenience.” The mayor says that other city services like the police department and maintenance are operating as normal. But he says the low vaccination rate remains a problem. “I’ve lost a lot of good older friends from this virus,” he said soberly. Mayor Casey is calling on more Vardaman residents to not only consider taking the vaccine but to also wear masks around large crowds, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. “Seems like there’s two options: Everybody get vaccinated or everybody have the virus,” he says. Mayor Casey says city hall will remain closed at least until both clerks have recovered and they are sure they are not at risk of spreading the virus. “Hopefully we’ll get through this and get back to normal soon,” he says.