JACKSON, Mississippi – Gov. Tate Reeves issued two executive orders today intended to combat the rising number of COVID-19 cases in many areas of the state.
Reeves extended the preexisting Safe Return order, initially issued on May 27th, which bans hospital visitation and discourages unnecessary travel, among other light restrictions. He also added eight Mississippi counties to the growing list of areas where the number of coronavirus cases has surged in recent days.
The counties of Carroll, Coahoma, Jones, Lee, Leflore, Lowndes, Noxubee, and Pontotoc join 29 others in the ‘hot zone’. Reeves issued county-specific orders for these areas that include a mask mandate and tighter social distancing procedures. The order goes into effect at 8 a.m. on August 3rd and is set to expire fourteen days later on August 17th.
State and local law enforcement have the authority to enforce the provisions outlined the executive order.
The Mississippi State Department of Health reported 1,775 new COVID-19 cases and 48 additional deaths on Wednesday. Data compiled using the gating criteria provided by the White House in its Reopening America Again plan shows that the Magnolia State leads the nation two very grim categories: we have the highest rate of coronavirus infection, and the highest ICU-occupation in the United States. The infection rate in Mississippi is 21%, while only 2% of the state’s ICU beds are available to incoming patients.
“We are going to continue working to ensure the integrity of our health care system,” Reeves said. “I want to underscore again: even if you do not personally fear coronavirus, the overwhelming of the system affects everybody. If you get in a car wreck, you don’t want to be treated in a tent like we saw in other parts of the country. You want to get the best possible care.”
37 of the state’s 82 counties – that’s 45% of Mississippi’s total counties – have been placed under county-specific executive orders as a result of COVID-19. They are: Bolivar, Calhoun, Carroll, Claiborne, Coahoma, Covington, Desoto, Forrest, Granada, Harrison, Hinds, Holmes, Humphreys, Jackson, Jefferson, Jones, Lamar, Lee, Leflore, Lowndes, Madison, Montgomery, Noxubee, Panola, Pontotoc, Quitman, Rankin, Sharkey, Simpson, Sunflower, Tallahatchie, Tate, Walthall, Washington, Wayne, Winston, and Yalobusha counties.