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DeSoto County Supervisor Lee Caldwell hands Vera and Tony Lamar one of thousands of free face coverings distributed in DeSoto County on Saturday, May 30. Through a state program, the county was given 78,500 masks to provide in its four cities and the county. More than 50,000 of the masks were given out during a four-hour period.

Saturday morning of the last weekend in May saw DeSoto County participation in an effort to distribute as many free face masks as possible. 

DeSoto County’s 185,000 citizens were allotted 78,500 masks. The only requirement was that those receiving masks had to be Mississippi residents.

The program, from the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency and Mississippi State Department of Health, was overseen by DeSoto County EMA Director Chris Olson and County EMS Director Mark Davis.

“Our goal was first and foremost to do all we can to assure the health of our citizens,” noted County Community Resource Director Christie Barclay. “This program of handing out free face masks was undertaken by the DeSoto County Board of Supervisors, in cooperation with the State Community Mask Program in Jackson. The allocation of the masks was determined by population and included unincorporated communities as well as incorporated cities. In the case of DeSoto County, all were made available at volunteer fire departments where people could drive-through and receive two masks.”

County Supervisor Lee Caldwell added, “Each city got a prorated number of masks, calculated to serve at least 40 percent of the city population. Not all requested masks, but of those who did they were given masks at no charge.”

Coordination was the key to the success of a program that took place on May 30 for a four-hour period. Statewide, 2.25 million masks have reached the public.

“I've received calls from people – many who've been sheltered-in-home for weeks with nowhere to go – asking where to go for information, who to ask, and so on,” Caldwell said.

Saturday's turnout was very good, with cars turning into the Nesbit Volunteer Fire Department where Caldwell and Barclay – along with volunteers from the firehouse handed out masks and noted how many were received.

It was a very successful effort, reflective of how seriously the state of Mississippi takes the COVID-19 virus, and how determined Mississippi is to protect its citizens.