This article is republished here with permission from The Associated Press. This content is shared here because the topic may interest Snopes readers; however, it does not represent the work of Snopes verifiers or editors.
TUPELO, Miss. (AP) – In the city of Mississippi where Elvis Presley was born, the mayor announced last week that masks would be required in public buildings and businesses starting Monday due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and he took the opportunity to discredit a series of rumors.
“Listen to our healthcare professionals regarding covid-19. My job as mayor is to do everything possible to keep our community safe, not to make easy or politically popular decisions, “wrote Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton on Facebook.
And he added: “ANTIFA will not reach Tupelo, the statues of Elvis will not be eliminated, you are not the target of some kind of global conspiracy, it is impossible to erase history and nobody has tried to do it, covid is not a hoax, you should not believe and share posts that are obviously bogus or used as political propaganda, and there is nothing “liberal” in any of the actions our administration has taken regarding these issues. “
Shelton, a Democrat who publicly supports presidential candidate Joe Biden, told The Associated Press in a brief phone interview that he was addressing “specific allegations I received by phone, email, or social media.”
He said people generally seemed to follow the mask requirement, although the City Council was receiving complaints about businesses that did not require employees to wear masks.
Responses to his Facebook message on Friday and a follow-up on Monday ranged from praise to: “Your days are numbered.”
The reference to erasing history is because Shelton has lobbied for years to remove the Confederate battle emblem from the Mississippi state flag, something the state Legislature voted on Sunday.
Shelton said he signed the mask order at the request of Northern Mississippi Medical Center officials, which he described as the largest rural hospital in Mississippi, and the Tupelo Economic Recovery Committee, about 40 business and civic leaders appointed to help Tupelo during the pandemic.
Tupelo is the county seat of Lee County, where state officials reported 460 cases of the disease caused by the new coronavirus and 15 deaths as of Sunday. State COVID-19 cases rose 675, to 26,000 confirmed and 167 probable, with 1,042 deaths confirmed to be caused by the disease and 17 likely caused by it, state officials said.
Shelton’s order said that as of Friday, 429 cases were in Tupelo, where the total increased an average of 11.7 per day. The hospital had been close to or in capacity for COVID-19 patients for two weeks, he said.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that go away in weeks. But for some, especially older adults and those with existing health problems, it can cause more serious or fatal illnesses.
The mayor said his Facebook post was written Friday when he was preparing to leave for the day.
“I thought it would just tackle everything at once,” he said. “I tried to cover the main themes of the wacky things surrounding the rumor mill.”
These included rumors of Antifa linked to protests against racial injustice and the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer pinned him down and pressed a knee to Floyd’s neck.
“I don’t know where that kind of thing comes from,” Shelton said. “Personally, I think it is right-wing political propaganda to keep its base revolted.”