Today, Governor Tate Reeves signed a new executive order establishing a statewide shelter-in-place for Mississippi to slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health of all who call our state home.
The Mississippi Department of Health determined that our state has now reached a critical point in the cycle of the outbreak, and Governor Reeves announced his decision to issue the shelter-in-place order for Mississippi at a press conference this afternoon.
Mississippi is rapidly increasing testing and strictly enforcing quarantines for anyone that investigators believe has been exposed to the virus. The shelter-in-place will begin this Friday, April 3, 2020 at 5:00 PM and be in effect until Monday, April 20, 2020 at 8:00 AM.
You can view the press conference live on our Facebook page here.
Here are Governor Reeves’ remarks from today’s press conference:
GOVERNOR REEVES: This is a somber time—for our country and our state. We are all in grave danger, from coast to coast. As leaders, our top priority is and always will be the safety of our citizens.
Every day, for the last several weeks, I have asked our health experts whether it is time for the ultimate action of a “shelter in place” order statewide. Yesterday, for the first time, we got the answer we had been anticipating. They told me we are now at the point in Mississippi’s cycle where such drastic restrictions are required. Today is the day. We are announcing a shelter-in-place order. It will go into effect on Friday at 5:00 PM.
I will let our top health official, Dr. Dobbs, explain his thought process behind the timing. I just want to offer a simple message to Mississippi:
This will not be easy for anyone, but we believe it is right. We know that there are many people who are scared: wondering what this means for their wages and their ability to put food on the table. We are here for you and working hard to help. Mississippi will not allow you to fall without a hand to help you back up.
We know that there are some who still do not have a healthy fear of this virus. They are wrong, and they are risking lives if they do not take this seriously.
This order will be enforced. It will be taken very, very seriously. It will not be forever. We will get through this and open our state back up as soon as our health experts tell me it is wise.
Our goal is to prevent our health care system from being overwhelmed. I pray that all of our orders and preparations will be enough. We believe that this is the right tool at the right time to save lives.
Today, this is the best course of action for Mississippi. I’ll turn it over to Dr. Dobbs for some more information.
In this latest executive order, the Governor lays out the guidelines of the statewide shelter-in-place to slow the spread of COVID-19, 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.
State Health Director Dr. Dobbs said something that has become worrisome is the advancement of this virus in nursing homes.
“We know more cases are coming we know we are going to have more deaths we know we are at the front of this thing but if we use this tool to slow this down, that’s what we are doing,” said Dobbs. He says this additional measure as well as others will hopefully slow this virus down.
Speaker of the House Philip Gunn was also present for the announcement and added that he was in full support of the executive order and believed this was the next best step for Mississippi to take to protect its people.
“We can always overcome the economic stuff but we cannot overcome the loss of life,” said Gunn.
General Boyles with the Mississippi National Guard said members are currently mobilized and are following the lead of the Mississippi State Department of Health and working closely with their partners in MEMA.
Director Michel, over MEMA, said one of the most challenging issues they’ve faced has been getting supplies to healthcare providers and first responders. Michel said this is also a national problem.
“I can assure you that those resources are coming in,” said Director Michel.
He added that they have team together in conjunction with the National Guard putting together a plan for additional resources and facilities in the event that hospitals are not able to handle the influx of patients.
Reeves said across the state they are beginning to see clusters of individuals who are not working and still gathering in groups. He said this order will give local law enforcement more authority to enforce the guidelines set out. Reeves added that over the coming days they will be looking at what state resources they can provide to help law enforcement uphold these rules.
Full text of the executive order is below: