State health officer calls on ‘leaders to lead and protect those they lead’

Community leaders on COVID-19

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) -You’ve heard COVID-19 warnings from the state’s top leaders. But the state health officer is issuing a call to action to all leaders.

“Make some hard decisions to protect your folks, even if it’s a little unpopular,” said State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs on December 1. “It’s time for leaders to lead.”

Dr. Thomas Dobbs continues that call to action through social media. Sunday, calling out leaders at home, school, houses of worship and work.

“Dr. Dobbs is 200 percent correct that those of us who sit in this seat must provide leadership and we cannot, I think, escape the responsibility of the leadership by blaming the people,” said New Hope Baptist pastor Dr. Jerry Young.

Dr. Jerry Young says they’ve not only maintained virtual-only services but worked to provide resources through food and mask giveaways and an upcoming COVID testing. He agrees it takes more than politicians giving a list of dos and don’ts.

“The church is one of the most effective ways to communicate with our community,” added Dr. Young. “I don’t think there’s any question about that.”

Now that the vaccine has arrived now the state, Representative Tom Miles believes it’s the next opportunity for leadership.

“Thursday, I issued the challenge to all elected officials across the state of Mississippi and even across the country that we as elected officials should lead by example,” said Rep. Tom Miles. “After all the frontline workers have taken the vaccine, we should volunteer to take the vaccine for people to see that it’s safe.”

Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton says he’s had to fight political opposition from those who don’t believe the science but they’re finding new ways to get more voices involved in a new public awareness campaign.

“Especially with how political this has become, it is of the utmost importance to have community buy-in,” described Shelton. “So, you can kind of take a step away from politics and get to the brass tax of hey, this is a totally serious issue and lives are at stake.”

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