Masking up Picayune

Published 7:00 am Saturday, August 15, 2020

Picayune Early Head Start worked to stop the spread of COVID-19 in Picayune on Friday by distributing over 48,000 free reusable face masks.

Early Head Start partnered with the Mississippi State Department of Health to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and received the face masks from MEMA, said EHS Health, Safety and Nutrition Manager Neterior McCormick.

“Now that the Governor mandated them, we wanted to make sure that everyone would have masks, whether they could afford it or not,” she said.

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McCormick drove to Jackson to pickup 97 boxes of adult and child face masks, along with hand sanitizer from MSDH’s Bureau Director of Adolescent Health.

“We want to stop the spread in Picayune, because we’ve lost a lot of lives in our community,” said McCormick.

A group of Early Head Start staff members started at 7:15 a.m. and worked until 4 p.m. passing out masks at every school in Picayune, the trailer park communities, the RV community, the Spanish community and the housing projects, said McCormick.

“Every child at every school is going home with five masks,” she said.

People were very grateful to accept the free masks, said McCormick, whether they needed them to go to the store, or needed spare masks to make it easier to keep their reusable masks clean.

“One young lady said ‘Yes, because this mask is so dirty that I have on,’ and that was the only mask she had,” McCormick said.

Although she asked MSDH for as many boxes as she could receive to distribute, McCormick said she did not realize how great the need was until staff began handing out masks.

“You’re fortunate if you can buy a custom mask, but then you have the people who can’t afford a mask and now it’s required and they can’t go anywhere,” she said.

In the hot afternoon, Early Head Start staff members made one of their many face mask distribution stops at Newness of Life Church, where Supervisor Donald Hart distributes gallons of milk weekly. Staff gave each person enough packs of five masks for their household.

“When they called me up I was glad to partner with them. That’s what it’s all about, meeting community need,” said Hart.

Every Friday Hart drives to Gulfport to pick up 100 gallons of milk from the Climb CDC Family Enrichment Center to hand out to people in Picayune. The milk distribution will continue weekly until the end of August.