WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. — West Memphis, Arkansas Mayor Marco McClendon is recommending masks in many situations and encouraging people to get vaccinated, as the Delta variant of COVID-19 spreads.

McClendon is strongly urging people to wear masks in public and stay six feet away from people in stores and churches. The city does not, by Arkansas state law, have the authority to enforce a mask mandate.

“If you are not vaccinated, please get vaccinated. That’s the No. 1 thing,” McClendon said.

Crittenden County has a rising number of cases of the virus, with 99 reported recently, officials said. Only July 6, had 25 active COVID-19 cases. This uptick in active cases has city leaders concerned.

“We can take the proper precautions to keep our community safe and hopefully avoid another shutdown,” McClendon said.

Under current state rules West Memphis’ mayor cannot enforce a mask mandate in the city, but he is encouraging people to mask up.

“Where we will be strongly urging people to start back wearing their mask while they’re in public,” McClendon said.

Crittenden County has 27% of its population vaccinated. The county’s emergency management director DeWayne Rose said that is “nowhere near” where the county needs to be.

“That’s a very low number. 27% is not anywhere near where we need to be as far as vaccinations are concerned,” said Rose. “If you’re not going to trust us, talk to your healthcare physician, talk to your healthcare provider, talk to your pastor, your religious leader, someone who you feel that you have a lot of trust in and get their opinion and make a sound judgement.” 

The mayor is also meeting with pastors to urge masking at church and urge congregations to get vaccinated as well.