Severity: Critical Alert

Transportation: Officials in Mississippi, US, extend safer-at-home order through May 25, allow certain businesses to reopen.

The locations affected by this alert are:

  • Jackson, Mississippi
  • Gulfport-Biloxi, Mississippi
  • Greenville, Mississippi
  • Hattiesburg, Mississippi
  • Pascagoula, Mississippi
  • Tupelo, Mississippi
  • Columbus-Starkville, Mississippi
  • Meridian, Mississippi

This alert began 11 May 2020 20:54 GMT and is scheduled to expire 25 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Mississippi (map)
  • Time Frame: Through at least May 25
  • Impact: Significant transport and business disruptions

Summary
Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves has extended his state's safer-at-home order through at least 0800 May 25, while lifting restrictions on certain businesses as part of the response to coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The safer-at-home order, which was set to expire May 11, urges residents to stay at home unless they are engaged in essential activities, such as obtaining basic goods, attending to a health issue, caring for a person in need, performing outdoor recreational activities, or performing work at an essential business or service. Residents must observe social distancing guidelines of 1.8 meters (6 feet) between individuals and avoid gatherings of 10 people or more.

Mississippi had earlier allowed certain businesses to reopen in increments on April 27, May 7, and May 8, including retail stores, restaurants and bars for dine-in services, personal care establishments such as barbershops and hair salons, and gyms and fitness centers. Some public facilities, such as parks and municipal swimming pools, have also reopened. Establishments that resume operations, however, must comply with specific mandates aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19, including social distancing guidelines and special sanitation directives, among other things. Such requirements may vary by industry.

Companies are still urged to allow employees to work from home to the extent possible. Museums, amusement parks, theaters, cinemas, and other entertainment venues remain closed. County and municipal authorities are allowed to impose stricter restrictions within their jurisdictions if they consider it necessary.

Significant transport and business disruptions are likely. Authorities will almost certainly keep additional security personnel deployed to assist in enforcing the remaining measures. Officials could amend the order on short notice, depending on the disease activity in the coming weeks.

Background and Analysis
The relaxation of some measures will likely accelerate in the coming weeks; however, restrictions may be reimposed or extended further should the number of COVID-19 cases increase. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Advice
Strictly heed the instructions of authorities. Avoid all nonessential operations in areas impacted by the measures. Confirm appointments. Remain courteous and cooperative if approached and questioned by law enforcement officers.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.


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