JACKSON, Miss. (WTOK) - Gov. 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 public health.
The Mississippi Department of Health says it has determined that the state has now reached a critical point in the cycle of the outbreak.
Reeves announced his decision to issue the shelter-in-place order for Mississippi at a news conference Wednesday afternoon.
Officials say Mississippi is rapidly increasing testing and strictly enforcing quarantines for anyone who investigators believe has been exposed to the virus. The shelter-in-place will begin Friday, Apr. 3, at 5 p.m. and be in effect until Monday, April 20 at 8 a.m.
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 p.m.
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.