Mayor's Report

Mar 28

Stay-Away Order

Posted on March 28, 2020 at 11:12 AM by Darren Musselwhite

Throughout this crisis, I’ve informed my citizens that, along with my team of advisors, department heads, and Board of Aldermen, I continue to evaluate and re-assess all information as it becomes available, specifically real-time behaviors of people and actual impacts of the COVID-19 Virus.  This is an ever-changing process daily, and sometimes even by the minute.

I’m humbly honored to serve the people of Southaven as Mayor, in good times and in bad, and I mean no disrespect to any of my citizens, or any people, in general, with my following statements, but I need people to listen to me now.

We are in a very dangerous situation!  Too many people are not taking this risk seriously enough, which is jeopardizing health and safety for all of us!

Listen to me, for those of you who keep quoting worldwide, national, or even state statistics and making light of this matter, let me point out that the risk in every community is not the same.  I’ve gathered information from any source I can get my hands and ears on, including our local physicians.  Those statistics are an aggregate and do not reflect the risk for more densely-populated communities, nor the limited amount of healthcare resources in varying areas.  This virus does not know state boundaries or any boundaries at all!  Southaven and Desoto County have a tremendously-greater risk because of the Memphis-Metro population density.  We also have a limited amount of healthcare options, including doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals should our numbers needing treatment get to a certain level.

Again, as I’ve stated consistently, there is no need to panic and we will get through this, but time is critical and we’ve got to be smart and minimize the rate of spread of this virus!


All details of the Civil Emergency Ordinance may be viewed easily in the proclamation on the front page of the City’s website at www.southaven.org.

Now, for those that question why I’ve not ordered a “Shelter-in-Place”, “Stay-at-Home”, or similar order.  Think about it with me, the common denominator for everyone with this risk minimization is not where you are, but instead physical gatherings with other people and making physical contact with heavily-frequented places.  Thus, I think the more appropriate term for the strategy is “Stay-Away”.  People need to be able to get out of their homes, enjoy the outdoors, or even take a drive.  You don’t have to stay home, but it’s imperative that you stay away from other people and facilities.  The old adage from the ‘90s applies today, “You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here!”  Laugh with me, just a little.J

Furthermore, I understand that this defined risk exists in essential places and operations as well, but I cannot tell people not to get food, medicine, gasoline, hardware, telecommunication equipment, and other essential professional services supplies and household goods.  In addition, there must be production and distribution of goods to meet these essential needs of life, including the transportation of these products. Specifically, it gets almost impossible, at least impractical, to define essential retail operations since most provide an array of products, many of which are essential as noted previously.  Before you ask, I will agree that clothing-only retailers are not essential in the short-term.  Most have already taken significant actions themselves to minimize risk.

The other fact of this matter is that a municipality does not have the resources to realistically enforce people to stay at home.  Honestly, I cringe while thinking about what that would look like!  Something of this magnitude would require state or federal assistance.  This is not my call.  I will remind again, however, what is my call and that we do have the resources to enforce the “Stay-Away Order” and will do so.  

We will get through this, but please join me in doing all we can do to get through it without losing any of the people we love.

Listen to me, stay calm; stay positive; stay home as much as you can; and stay smart!  

With the most concern and respect…

Mayor Darren Musselwhite


Mar 28

Joint Proclamation from Mayor Scott Phillips and Mayor Darren Musselwhite

Posted on March 28, 2020 at 11:11 AM by Darren Musselwhite

The Mayors and Boards of Aldermen of Southaven and Olive Branch held special meetings on Sunday, March 22, 2020.  Both municipalities adopted Ordinances of Civil Emergency to aid in the control of contagious and infectious diseases.  These steps were taken on the advice of local health authorities who state that extraordinary measures are necessary to protect the public health, safety, and welfare of the citizens and visitors to both cities. 

Both Ordinances authorize such further orders as are necessary.  Because Olive Branch and Southaven residents, totaling nearly 100,000 people, constitute approximately half of the total population of Desoto County, and because both Cities have a large number of workers who live elsewhere but travel here for employment, the Cities desire for the enforcement of the civil emergency to be as uniform as possible.  It is important to note these necessary actions are in response to unprecedented circumstances with a two-fold goal which is to minimize the risk of the spread of this virus to protect the health and safety of people, but also to minimize the economic risks to both cities.  Accordingly, Mayor Musselwhite and Mayor Phillips have issued this joint supplemental proclamation pursuant to the authority granted by state law and the aforementioned City Ordinances for the purpose of clarification for all. 

In Southaven, all restaurant dining rooms, bars, nightclubs, lounges, taverns, gyms, theaters, and recreational and amusement facilities shall be closed.  In Olive Branch all restaurant dining rooms are closed. In Olive Branch, no bar, tavern, or similar establishment shall allow any inside service or on-premises (indoor or outdoor) consumption. 

Non-essential businesses, clubs, organizations, places of worship (not restricting worship, just physical gatherings), or other gatherings shall adhere to the CDC guidelines to limit crowds or gatherings to no more than 10 people.  In Southaven, this includes non-essential retail stores of 4000 square feet or smaller and salons. In Olive Branch it includes non-essential retail stores of any size.  In Olive Branch, other non-essential facilities such as gyms, salons, and recreational facilities are also subject to CDC guidelines and the limitations of the Ordinance.

The Cities of Southaven and Olive Branch have ordered all non-essential operations to implement the CDC guidelines.  Each facility may determine the method of compliance best suited for its operations.  However, failure to comply is a violation of the ordinance, punishable as a misdemeanor, and may result in the consideration of further restrictions if necessary to protect the public health.  Again, both cities stress the importance of a common-sense approach and encourage all to use their own good judgment to minimize risks.

The following are considered Essential Services and Operations pursuant to the Ordinances:

Healthcare and Public Health Operations:  hospitals; nursing homes; clinics; dental offices; pharmacies; drug stores; public health entities; manufacturers and suppliers of public health supplies; blood banks; eye care centers; home healthcare operations; mental health providers; rehabilitation services; ancillary healthcare services including veterinary care, but excluding fitness and exercise gyms, spas, salons, barbershops, and similar facilities.

Government Operations:  City, County, State, and Federal offices and facilities.

 Essential Distribution and Manufacturing Infrastructure and Services:  distribution centers; manufacturers and distributors of household goods and items for the supply chain; hardware stores; building management and maintenance; airport operations; automobile dealerships and distributors; insurance companies; utility companies; flood control, solid waste, and recycling operations; internet, telecommunication, security (including cybersecurity) and related emergency communication systems; construction operations conducted pursuant to an issued building permit.

 Food Services:  Grocery stores; food production and distribution facilities; convenience stores (but not dine-in); stores that sell food and medicine and essential household goods; food pantries.

 Gas stations.

 Banks; Financial Institutions.

 Licensed daycares (subject to guidance from state licensing authorities).

 Media outlets.

 Critical trades:  Plumbers; electricians; exterminators; cleaning and janitorial staff for commercial and government facilities; security companies; HVAC; auto repair, small engine repair, and essential sales operations; and other service providers that maintain the safety, sanitation and essential operations of residences and other essential structures.

 Educational institutions for the facilitation of remote learning.

 Hotels and motels:  for lodging (with ancillary food service conducted pursuant to the restaurant guidelines contained herein).

 Restaurants:  drive-through; curbside delivery; home delivery; and take out, provided that CDC guidelines are maintained.  No on-premises consumption of food.

 Professional services needed for the support of essential activities.

 Laundry services.

 Lawn care services.

 Funeral homes and related services and activities; places of worship solely for funeral activities.

 Organizations providing essential charitable services.

 Essential Critical Infrastructure Operations pursuant to Department of Homeland Security CISA guidelines. 

Essential service providers are vital to the local, state, a national economy and provide necessary supplies for public health, safety, and welfare.  Essential service providers are urged, where possible, to comply with all applicable CDC guidance. 

These regulations are in force in Southaven until further order of the City with an ongoing re-assessment as new information develops daily with ever-changing circumstances.  The Olive Branch Ordinance extends until April 21st (unless rescinded earlier).  It is both cities’ hope to rescind this Ordinance as soon as it is safe to do so and return to the thriving local economies we both have enjoyed.

Before passing this Ordinance, both cities promoted the recommendations of public health experts and also implemented these recommendations into City operations.  Both Cities have maintained the services essential for citizens while limiting risk with public gatherings at park facilities, both City Halls, and Municipal Courts. Recreational activities that do not promote mass gatherings of people are still available in both cities and much needed for the health of our citizens.

Southaven and Olive Branch are growing, dynamic, and active communities with people of all ages and activity levels, business and industry of all types, and diverse economies.  Adoption and enforcement of any Ordinance is complicated in towns with so many intersecting interests and activities.  When facing unprecedented circumstances, the implementation of an Ordinance dealing with a state of civil emergency is certain to carry with it a measure of confusion, complexity, and unforeseeable issues.  Both Cities, and both Mayors, are committed to protecting public health, maintaining the supply of vital goods and services, and promoting the welfare of the community.  Both Cities encourage all citizens and visitors to voluntarily comply with the Ordinances, with current CDC and Health Dept. guidance, and with common-sense hygiene.  Please help your community successfully limit the effects of the virus.  Ideally, further regulation of public activity will not be needed.  We appreciate your patience, support, and cooperation.

Scott Phillips, Mayor of Olive Branch

Darren Musselwhite, Mayor of Southaven

Joint proclamation 1
Joint proclamation 2
Joint proclamation 3
Mar 28

Mandatory Restrictions on Gatherings

Posted on March 28, 2020 at 11:10 AM by Darren Musselwhite

As we continue to navigate through an unprecedented challenge in our world with the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Southaven is continuously assessing new and ever-changing information by the minute.  Along with my team of department heads and  Board of Aldermen, I have been watching and studying this matter long before it reached the United States, Mississippi, and our city.  We’ve followed, promoted, and furthermore pleaded with all to heed the recommendations of President Trump, Governor Reeves, the CDC, MSDH, and other public health experts in minimizing the risk of spread of this virus.  We’ve urged our citizens not to panic, but to take this disease extremely seriously and take actions accordingly.  This is not a perfect science, but instead a strategy of statistics to minimize the risk of a pandemic over-run of our health care facilities.  Specifically, one of the key strategies in fighting this threat is social distancing by limiting mass gatherings of people.  While so many of our citizens and businesses have risen to the occasion like we knew they would, our ongoing assessments have shown that too many continue to gather, creating a serious threat to the health and safety of our citizens and people, in general.  Considering this as well as the very recent additional risk added by the influx of gatherings in our city following the City of Memphis mandates, we must take the following action:

Effective TODAYMARCH 22, 2020 at 5:00 PM with approved ordinance from our Board of Aldermen, I order and will execute the following mandatory restrictions in our city until further notice:

All restaurant dining rooms must close and limit service to drive-through, delivery, take-out, or curbside options.

All bars, gyms, theaters, salons, and recreational or amusement facilities must close.

All businesses, clubs, organizations, places of worship, or other gatherings  within the City’s boundaries shall adhere to the guidelines of the CDC to limit crowds or gatherings to no more than 10 people, with the exclusion of essential services including, but not limited to, hospitals, nursing homes, post office, distribution centers, manufacturers and distributors of household goods and items for the supply chain, manufacturers and distributors of products essential for the supply chain of vital supplies, health clinics, drug stores, pharmacies, banks, grocery stores, convenience stores, gas stations, day cares, retail stores over 4,000 square feet, and hardware stores.

In addition, I have also declared a Civil Emergency for our city to control the spread of this disease. This, in no way, should be misconstrued as a need for panic, but is simply a maneuver to allow us leniency with certain laws which will further allow us to serve our citizens better and also recover unusual costs associated with these circumstances.

For those that question why  we’ve not taken more drastic measures such as a “Shelter-in-Place” or other similar orders, please understand that although it sounds like a noble move and is possible that circumstances could require this, cities do not have the manpower and other resources to enforce this.  This decision is more effectively made by the state or federal government with much-needed resource allocations to support it.  Neither have done this at this time.

Furthermore, it’s important to me that my citizens and our business community know that I understand that all of these decisions have tremendous consequences.  We have been cautious and reluctant to execute mandates because we know we face serious economic risks in addition to public health and safety risks and these decisions have serious impacts on the livelihoods of our people in the short term.  Even still, we must make difficult decisions with our priorities in line.  The health and safety of our people must always be our number-one goal.  In weighing all risks, we must also consider that the sooner we control the spread of this virus, the sooner we can return to our way of life and a thriving local economy again.  

Stay calm; stay home if you can; stay smart; stay positive; stay safe; and consider the safety and needs of your fellow man.

We will get through this and return to the way of life we love in Southaven!