The number of reported cases of the novel coronavirus in Mississippi now tops 1,000, as the detections in Hinds County rise above 100. The new peak for the virus’ spread comes as Gov. Tate Reeves prepares to decree a “shelter at home” order for the entire state of Mississippi. Photo courtesy MSDH
Gov. Tate Reeves is expected to become one of the last governors in the U.S. to issue a statewide shelter-at-home order for the next two weeks, after a desperate letter from LouAnn Woodward, vice chancellor of the University of Mississippi Medical Center, prompted a reassessment of the current piecemeal lockdown strategy.
“In my opinion, (a shelter-in-place order) is the only additional thing we can do right now to decrease the force of the impact. Any and every ventilator and ICU bed we can spare will matter. I couldn’t let another day pass without sharing my perspective. We are worried,” Mississippi Today reports the vice chancellor’s letter as saying.
Reeves has faced heavy scrutiny within the state and nationally since his first executive order fell short of a strong order for Missisissippians to stay at home or for non-essential businesses to close. Last week, his own town of Flowood showed a patchwork of businesses approaches, including some non-essential department stores and others closed. It is unclear, so far, whether his new order will close all non-essential businesses, as Mayor Chokwe A. Lumumba’s new shelter-in-place order today does in the capital city.
The Mississippi State Department of Health is reporting 136 new cases of COVID-19 in Mississippi as April begins, another record-breaking single-day increase. The total detections of COVID-19 in the state are now 1,073, breaking the four-digit mark exactly three weeks after MSDH discovered the first case in a Forrest County man returning from Florida.
Hinds County now is reporting 109 cases of COVID-19, the most in the state. Lauderdale County, the subject of Gov. Tate Reeves’ first, and until today, only “shelter-at-home” executive order added four new cases, now totalling 39. COVID-19 deaths rose by two as of last evening, bringing the total to 22.
Before today’s reports of a statewide order, Hinds County, again the most infected—and most densely populated—county in the state was still not subject to specific shutdown orders from the governor, beyond his general baseline executive order, which commanded social distancing practices for all Mississippians while also formally designating many businesses as “essential.”
However, some Jackson metro mayors had begun to order their own additions to the statewide restrictions, which expanded on Reeves’ original mandate. Flowood Mayor Gary Rhodes ordered the shutdown of “personal care” services, including salons and gyms, as well as “places of public amusement.”
Lumumba’s “stay at home” order for the capital city today outlines essential businesses and services, including all businesses Reeves defined as essential in his earlier executive order. But the order also establishes “minimum basic operations” standards, which compel businesses to take all measures to “facilitate employees of the business being able to continue to work remotely.”
The Jackson mayor’s order also orders non-essential retail and shopping centers to be closed.
Read the JFP’s coverage of COVID-19 at jacksonfreepress.com/covid19. Get more details on preventive measures here. Read about announced closings and delays in Mississippi here. Read MEMA’s advice for a COVID-19 preparedness kit here.
Email information about closings and other vital related logistical details to [email protected].
Email state reporter Nick Judin, who is covering COVID-19 in Mississippi, at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @nickjudin. Seyma Bayram is covering the outbreak inside the capital city and in the criminal-justice system. Email her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @seymabayram0.