Gov. Reeves & health officials address current situation with COVID-19; announce one day testing sites


JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Governor Tate Reeves, along with other state leaders, addressed the public on Thursday, March 26. They talked about how Mississippi will start taking an “offensive” strategy when it comes to slowing the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

According to Dr. Thomas Dobbs, the State Health Officer, the Mississippi State Department of Health will take a more aggressive approach when it comes to case finding, isolating and quarantining individuals who have the virus.

So far, 485 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the state with six deaths. Health officials said citizens should not let their guard down when it comes to the virus and that it won’t go away anytime soon.

“We will see more deaths,” said Dr. Dobbs. “It’s time to be aggressive.”

Greg Michel, the Executive Director of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, said his agency is working to get the equipment needed for more testing in the state.

MSDH, along with the University of Mississippi Medical Center, will open two mobile COVID-19 testing sites for one day only on Friday, March 27. Testing will be free of charge.

The sites will be at the following locations in Desoto and Coahoma counties and open from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.:

Coahoma Expo Center
1150 Wildcat Drive
Clarksdale, Mississippi

Lewisburg High School
1755 Craft Road
Olive Branch, Mississippi

Anyone experiencing symptoms related to the novel coronavirus who feel they should be tested must first go through a screening from a UMMC clinician by calling 601-496-7200 or through the C Spire Health UMMC Virtual COVID-19 Triage telehealth smartphone app.

Reeves said he’s willing to use all his powers as governor to help with the response efforts. Mississippi is expected to receive funds from the $2.2 trillion economic rescue package that was passed by the U.S. Senate. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi believes the bill will also pass the U.S. House. The House will vote on the package on Friday, March 27.

Reeves also issued a supplement to his latest executive order that he initially signed on Tuesday, March 24, to clarify and provide direction for leaders across the state.

“Consulting with our state’s health experts, we have established a statewide standard of social distancing and defining essential businesses to slow the spread. There should be no confusion about my intent and commitment to protecting public health. We must come together as leaders, as a state, to ensure the health of all who call Mississippi home. We are all in this fight together,” he said.

In this supplement to Executive Order No. 1463, Reeves provides clarity to ensure uniform statewide parameters to slow the spread of COVID-19, including:

  • No measures can be adopted that are less restrictive than the executive order.
  • Any existing local measures can remain in effect under the executive order, as long as they provide the same minimum standards established in the executive order and do not impose restrictions that would prevent essential services from operating.

The governor also said if he is advised by MSDH or federal leaders to issued a “shelter in place” order, he will do so.

Reeves and health officials also encouraged Mississippians to protect themselves and others.

How to protect others:

  • Stay home if you are sick, and avoid close contact with anyone who is ill.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes. When possible, cough, sneeze or blow your nose into a tissue, and throw the tissue away.
  • If you are sick, especially with shortness of breath, severe cough, fever or severe chest pain, call a doctor or healthcare provider for instructions on being safely examined.

How to protect yourself away from home:

  • Avoid social and community gatherings where 10 people or more would come into close contact.
  • Practice social distancing advice below when your are in a group of people.
  • Avoid unnecessary (non-urgent) air, bus or train travel.
  • Limit visitation to older relatives or friends (especially in nursing or care homes).

Practice protective hygiene:

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly, especially after coughing or sneezing, blowing your nose, and using the bathroom. Effective handwashing takes about 20 seconds, and includes cleaning under fingernails, between fingers, and washing the back of hands as well as the front. More proper handwashing tips »
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that are touched often.
  • Stay in good overall health by eating right and staying active. If you are living with diabetes, heart disease or other condition, keep in touch with your doctor and stay current with your treatment.
  • During or before flu season, get a flu shot. Flu vaccination can prevent the flu or make it less severe, and decrease your chance of hospitalization and death. It also keeps you healthier and better able to fight off infections.

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