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Reeves executive order to provide tighter guidelines for gatherings, employers, and bars and restaurants

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Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves on Tuesday, March 24. (Photo via screen capture)

Gov. Tate Reeves has promised to continue to take action to protect Mississippians from the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.

In a press conference held on the steps of the Governor’s Mansion Tuesday, Reeves made his first public appearance since returning from a vacation in Spain and self-quarantining for about 10 days.

“We have taken decisive action,” he said. “In fact, we have taken very aggressive and decisive action to help protect Mississippians from this virus.”

After providing a lengthy timeline of his response to COVID-19 to date, Reeves announced several updates to the state’s response. Among them is the delivery of nearly 450,000 surgical and more protective n95 masks to hospitals. He encouraged hospitals to utilize their existing contracts and supply chains to secure masks and personal protective equipment, or PPEs.

“Every county (Emergency Management Agency) in Mississippi now has personal protective equipment from the state for first responders,” he said.

He then reiterated the guidelines for keeping safe during the crises.

“You must stay home as much as you can. Do not go out if you can possibly avoid it,” Reeves said. “Do not hoard supplies. We have assured you, as we have been reassured by the president and others, that the supply chain is working. The supply chain is delivering groceries every single day. Our amazing Mississippi truckers and our amazing truck drivers are working to ensure those stocks, those shelves get restocked. That is something that must continue.

“I have to tell you: Please, do not hoard. This is not a time for panic, this is a time for caution. Listen to the experts because I can tell you that is exactly what I am doing.”

“Do not gather in groups of 10 or more,” Reeves added. “Use good hygiene.

“Reserve our tests for the most vulnerable amongst us. … If you do not have symptoms, you do not need to be tested. If you don’t have fever in excess of 100.4, you probably do not need to be tested.”

Reeves also asked employers to allow people who can work from home to do so, and asked them to allow non-essential employees to go home.

On Tuesday, Reeves will sign an executive order to instruct Mississippians to avoid non-essential gatherings of 10 or more, that tells all restaurants and bars to suspend dine-in services, and instead use drive-thru, pick-up or delivery to get people food.

It will direct Mississippians not to visit hospitals, nursing homes or long-term care facilities.

It will direct businesses to direct every possible employee to work from home and it will ultimately define essential businesses that may be exempt from those rules.

“I have committed to transparency in this process,” Reeves said, “and I will continue to offer transparency.

“Understand that we are not at the end of this pandemic. In fact, we may still be at the beginning stages of this fight. The virus is new. We do not know what the future holds, but we do know that this virus is not to be taken lightly. We have emphasized that from day one, and as the data comes in, we will understand that even more.

Reeves indicated that the president’s “15 days to slow the spread” campaign  may be working eight days in, but there’s not enough data, yet, to be sure.

“We also know that every action we have taken to date does have unintended consequences,” Reeves added. “Every action echoes through our community, affecting thousands of people’s ability to earn a living, affects thousands of families and affects thousands if not hundreds of thousands of lives. These decisions are amongst the hardest of my career.

“I’m hopeful that we do not have to choose between the effects of this virus and the potential for abject poverty coming out of an economic disaster. Our health experts tell us this is not the case, and I trust them.

“I make you a solemn promise: I will take every action that our experts tell us will protect Mississippi’s most vulnerable citizens. That is my job. I will make hard decisions, and I will do what’s right for the people of Mississippi.”

He added, “All of us are in this together. … Be smart, because we do not know when this will end. But have hope, because we do know we will make it through.”

Following Reeves comments, Dr. Thomas Dobbs, state health officer, said that he expects “to see continued increases in cases over the next days and weeks, although we are doing everything we can to figure out how to stop the spread of this virus.”

He also emphasized social distancing, particularly in church and church-related events such as weddings and funerals.

“I know our faith is very important to us, but part of this is for our neighbors,” Dobbs said, “and if we really love our neighbors, we will make sure that we honor these best practices.

COVID-19

Half of Mississippi’s counties are now under governor’s mask mandates

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Gov. Tate Reeves during a news conference Oct. 19, 2020. (photo via video screen grab)

Tuesday, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves announced a continuation of his county-level attempt to lower the number of COVID-19 cases in Mississippi by adding 19 counties to the list of those under expanded restrictions.

Half of Mississippi’s counties — 41 of 82 — are now under mask mandates. The counties added Tuesday are Alcorn, Attala, Bolivar, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Jefferson Davis, Jones, Lafayette, Lawrence, Lincoln, Lowndes, Neshoba, Panola, Perry, Prentiss, Stone, Tippah, Tishomingo and Union. Click here to see a map showing the rest of the counties under the expanded restrictions and self-imposed mask mandates.

“This is a critical time,” Reeves said of the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, asking Mississippians to please be extra cautious and look out for loved ones.

“There is much more COVID-19 around us,” he added, emphasizing that there is a greater risk to unknowingly pass the virus to loved ones as the state experiences a surge in new cases.

“The risk is greater,” he said.

Numerous health officials have called on the governor to issue a statewide mask mandate, but so far, he has resisted taking that action.

“If you issue the mask mandates on a county-by-county basis, based on where the number of cases is the largest, then that is the best strategy to convince the most number of our fellow Mississippians to wear a mask,” Reeves said.

To prove the point, the governor compared other states where mask mandates have been in place for months that now have much higher rates of infection than Mississippi.

He also said that he believes wearing a mask is helpful in slowing the spread of the virus and urged all Mississippi residents to wear masks in public.

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Officials urging comments to support Corps’ Yazoo Backwater statement

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U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith spoke with flood victims at Valley Park, Miss., in 2019. (Photo by David Day)

State officials are urging Mississippians to weigh in on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Environmental Impact Statement in support of finishing the Yazoo Backwater Pumps by the Monday deadline.

“We’ve seen the devastation that the backwater flooding has caused to Mississippi agriculture, farmers, ranchers and wildlife for years now, unnecessarily. The solution is simple, we need to finish the Yazoo Pump Project, which would prevent flood damage to urban and agricultural areas throughout the state for years to come,” said Andy Gipson, commissioner of agriculture and commerce, in a statement.

“The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is currently accepting comments from citizens through Monday, Nov. 30, on the Yazoo Area Pump Project, and I encourage all Mississippians to take a moment and submit a comment of support. We need to stand up for our friends in the Mississippi South Delta and help them in their time of need. It’s time to finish the pumps.”

Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann tweeted a brief video Monday in support of the finishing the pumps.

Comments must be submitted by Monday, Nov. 30. Submit comments using one of the following methods:

  • Text PUMPS to 50457.
  • Send a voicemail or text message to 601-392-2237.
  • Go to https://www.forgottenbackwaterflood.com/ or https://finishthepumps.com/ to fill out an online form to send to the Corps.
  • Fill out a postcard available at sites around the state including Valley Park Elevator in Valley Park, Lo-Sto and Yore Convenience Store in Eagle Lake, Mississippi Ag Company and Chuck’s Dairy Bar in Rolling Fork, Mississippi Levee Board and Sherman’s Restaurant in Greenville, Toney’s Grill in Vicksburg and the Mississippi Delta Council in Stoneville.
  • Send an email to [email protected]
  • Write to the Corps at the following address:
    District Engineer
    S. Army Corps of Engineers
    Vicksburg District
    4155 Clay Street
    Vicksburg, MS 39183-3435
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Business

Cars line up on Starbucks’ opening day

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Cars lined up down the block on Starbucks' opening day Tuesday. (photo by Thomas Parker)

Cars lined up Tuesday at the new Vicksburg Starbucks drive-thru window to get a first taste of the chain’s coffee beverages and food offerings.

Starbucks, based in Seattle, Washington, announced last year that it was adding a location in Vicksburg at 3405 Halls Ferry Road, and many in the community were eagerly awaiting the chance visit the well-known coffee shop. Before, if a Vicksburg resident wanted Starbucks, they would have to drive about 30 minutes to Clinton for the nearest location.

It remains to be seen how business will hold up after the initial rush subsides. Some are curious how the opening will impact Vicksburg’s coffee shop Cafe Paradiso, a local favorite, which is just a stone’s throw away in an adjacent strip center.

The opening and public opinion on Starbuck’s corporate policies have been hot topics on social media in recent weeks. Tuesday, many locals posted photos of their purchased Starbucks items.

The Vicksburg location will be open six days a week from 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. and is closed Sundays.

Thomas Parker contributed to this story.

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Humidity: 83%
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