Gov. Reeves issues shelter-in-place order due to COVID-19 cases

Published: Mar. 31, 2020 at 9:16 AM CDT
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Gov. Tate Reeves Tuesday issued a shelter-in-place order for Lauderdale County due to the increase in identified cases. That number stood at 35 as of Tuesday morning.

The governor said it's in effect as of 10 p.m. Tuesday and will continue through April 14.

Reeves said he anticipates there will be other counties added at some point as the pandemic emergency continues.

Reeves said state teams will be sent to Lauderdale County to make sure that all that can be done is to contain the spread is being done.

The Mississippi Department of Health identified Lauderdale County as the first localized region for additional restrictions. This follows the 'identify and isolate' strategy that the state health officer, Dr. Thomas Dobbs, laid out at a news conference last week.

State epidemiologist, Dr. Paul Byers, said a nursing home in Lauderdale County has been identified with a high incidence of cases. He said the state is working with that nursing home to increase sanitary measures and prevent further cases. Byers said the people at the nursing home who are at risk have been identified.

"We have have seen an increase in Lauderdale County. This is not a county with the highest number of cases but we are watching and have seen a rapid increase," said state epidemiologist, Dr. Paul Byers at the governor's news conference. "This is an opportunity to put in place additional measures to interrupt the transmission."

Byers said the more cases that are identified, the more we can do case investigations, isolate people who have the virus, identify their contacts and then isolate them as well. He said it's a strategy that will be effective in limiting the spread of COVID-19.

Mississippi is rapidly increasing testing and strictly enforcing quarantines for anyone that investigators believe has been exposed to the virus. Two-week shelter-in-place orders are a tool to allow health officials to flex resources to areas that carry special risk. The shelter-in-place will begin at 10:00 p.m. Tuesday and be in effect through April 14, 2020.

"This is the first of many actions that will come as a result of our 'Identify and Isolate' strategy to protect Mississippi’s health care system from being overwhelmed. Keeping Mississippians healthy and safe while working to slow the spread remains our top priority. This order builds on the state’s other social distancing requirements to protect public health. Please stay home so we can all stay healthy," said Governor Tate Reeves of the executive order.

In this latest executive order, the Governor lays out the guidelines of the shelter-in-place to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Lauderdale County, 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.