Health official responds to Southaven mayor’s COVID-19 statements

Watch: Health official respond to Southaven mayor's COVID-19 statements

DESOTO COUNTY, Miss. — There is a major disagreement between the state health officer and the Southaven Mayor about handling COVID-19 cases in Desoto county.

On one hand, Dr. Thomas Dobbs urged people to wear masks and practice social distancing as cases spike but on the other hand, Southaven Mayor Darren Musselwhite told people to be safe but go outside if they want to live their lives.

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“We are not going to hold any punches, if there are a lot of cases and people are dying I will say it to protect the public,” said Dobbs.

Dobbs said leaders in Desoto County need to be careful.

Health department data shows Desoto County has the highest number of cases from October 26 to November 8 with 1,010 cases.

“Now is not the time to throw caution to the wind, now is time to be more conscientious than ever to turn back this pandemic so we have a brighter future in months ahead,” said Dobbs.

Dobbs warned people about cases spiking in Desoto County for weeks.

Just last week, he said Desoto County is “on fire” with cases and wouldn’t leave his home if he lived there.

Musselwhite responded on Facebook.

He said Desoto County has the highest number of cases because it has the highest population.

Musselwhite argued that Desoto County doesn’t have greater problems than any other county and suggested the mask mandates was unnecessary.

In the Facebook post, he also claimed that many of the positive cases came from people who live outside of Desoto County but test in Mississippi because it’s close by.

Dobbs said that wasn’t true.

“Desoto County has a huge number of cases they have almost 200 more cases per week than any other county in the state of Mississippi. It’s a place people need to be watching and need to be careful,” said Dobbs.

While both leaders disagree, Dobbs said one thing is for certain: the coronavirus isn’t going away anytime soon and people need to mask up.

“Please if you live in Desoto County or anywhere in Mississippi you have to be very careful and understand the risks that you are undertaking,” he said.

Dobbs emphasized that the mask mandate is the law and it’s important to follow because it will prevent transmission.

FOX13 emailed Musselwhite about Dobbs' response to his Facebook post but didn’t hear back.