by Hunter Dawkins

Wednesday afternoon, Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves signed an executive order beginning a statewide “shelter in place” order to reduce the COVID-19 (coronavirus) spread at a press conference in Jackson.  Currently, the state of Mississippi has 1073 confirmed cases and 22 deaths of the global pandemic.

“For me, this decision has always been data driven and has always been based upon the advice of the experts,” said Governor Reeves.  “Today after conversations late yesterday in the data that we’ve gotten in, that today is the day.  In some places of the state; such as the Mississippi Gulf Coast, this leads us to make some decisions.”

Following Reeves comments, the State Health Officer; Dr. Thomas Dobbs MD, spoke about a few underlying factors of this order.

“We have the benefit of seeing other states where before we made these decision and this virus is going to be disruptive,” expressed Dobbs.  “The previous measures were helpful and if people would have complied, the outcomes would have been better.  However, we are starting to see an increase for a targeted period of time, if we can enforce this order, the health care system will not be overwhelmed and we can take the pressure off of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA).”

The statewide “shelter in place” order goes into effect Friday, April 3 at 5 p.m. and will remain in effect until Monday, April 20, at 8:00 a.m.  Additionally, all Mississippi Gulf Coast beaches will be closed as of 5pm Friday by Governor Reeves executive order on Wednesday.

All details of Executive Order 1466 are below:

Read the full order here: https://bit.ly/34059yO

Mississippi is rapidly increasing testing and strictly enforcing quarantines for anyone that investigators believe has been exposed to the virus.

In this latest executive order, the Governor lays out the guidelines of the shelter-in-place to slow the spread of COVID-19 across the state, including:

  • Individuals are to stay at home except for the limited allowances in the executive order.
  • When outside of their homes, people must follow social distancing guidelines by maintaining a 6-foot distance from others and avoid groups of 10 or more.
  • Evictions are suspended, though people are still required to pay any rent or make any mortgage payments.
  • All nonessential businesses are to stop all activities other than those necessary for minimum operations (e.g. payroll, health insurance, security) and enabling employees to work from home.
  • Social and other non-essential gatherings in groups of more than 10 people must be cancelled or rescheduled.
  • Restaurants and bars may only remain open for drive-thru, curbside, and/or delivery service.
  • People may leave their homes only to perform essential activities, such as caring for someone in the vulnerable population, getting food or necessary supplies, and working for an essential business.
  • Individual outdoor recreation is encouraged, but not group recreation or activities such as soccer or basketball games.

“Violating this executive order not only puts yourself at risk, other Mississippians become at risk,” declared Governor Reeves.  “The single best mechanism of enforcement is for individuals to enforce it themselves.”

With support of from the legislature, Speaker of the House of Representatives Philip Gunn briefly attended the press conference, offering some kind words at instituting the executive order.  Additionally, Lieutenant Governor Delbert Hosemann wrote a statement, stating “With the public’s help, we can fight COVID-19.  We need to heed and support Governor Reeves’ executive order to shelter-in-place until April 20.  We need to work together to take care of our most vulnerable citizens by listening to our healthcare professionals and traveling outside of our homes only when necessary.”

Despite the state having over 1000 reported cases, the Mississippi Gulf Coast (Harrison, Hancock, Jackson) only confirmed 121 cases and two deaths.