With the COVID-19 outbreak being called “as bad of a situation as we can be” in by State Epidemiologist Paul Byers, Mississippi is ordering anyone who tests positive for the coronavirus to go into isolation at home.
On Friday, Byers said the state’s COVID situation was “worse than any time we’ve experienced in this pandemic.”
That day, 5,048 cases were recorded, the highest since the dawn of the pandemic, according to the Clarion-Ledger of Jackson.
To deal with an outbreak that is straining the state’s hospitals, Dr. Thomas Dobbs, executive director of the Mississippi State Department of Health, issued a drastic order.
“All persons residing in Mississippi must immediately home-isolate on first knowledge of infection with COVID-19,” the order said.
The order said vaccination status is immaterial.
“All persons, including fully vaccinated individuals, infected with COVID-19 must remain in the home or other appropriate residential location for 10 days from onset of illness (or 10 days from the date of a positive test for those who are asymptomatic),” the order said.
“A negative test for COVID-19 is not required to end isolation at the end of 10 days, but you must be fever free for at least 24 hours with improvement of other symptoms. Mississippi K-12 schools are required to exclude all students and faculty diagnosed with COVID-19 from the school setting during the isolation period (as above).”
Violating the order is at least a misdemeanor carrying a fine of $500 or six months in jail, or both. The order noted that, “If a life- threatening disease is involved, failure or refusal to obey the lawful order of a health officer is a felony” that could be punished with a $5,000 fine or five years in prison, or both.
The order, which took effect Friday, said isolation does not mean family dinners and other business as usual.
“No visitors should be allowed in the home. Please stay in a specific room away from others in your home. Use a separate bathroom if available. If you need to be around others in your home, you should wear a face mask,” the order said.
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves shared a message on his Facebook page and urged residents of his state to be vaccinated.
“In the last month, 89% of our hospitalizations and 87% of our deaths have occurred among the unvaccinated,” he said, adding that “No single county in our state has a majority of its population vaccinated to this point; only 16 counties are over 40%.”
Reeves noted that vaccinations are on the upswing.
“Getting the vaccine is your choice. It is your decision and as your Governor, I respect your decision. But please know that more and more Mississippians are concluding that getting vaccinated is a good choice not only for themselves but for the people around them,” he wrote.
Reeves said his message is about responsibility.
“If you choose not to be vaccinated, there are other choices you should consider to protect yourself and the people you love. Distancing and masking and avoiding unnecessary indoor crowds all have proven to help – and they’re all things you can decide to do on your own,” he wrote.
“I’d like to take a moment and talk about that idea of responsibility. I believe you, as an individual Mississippian, can be trusted to make good and responsible decisions.
“Good practices are a choice. Staying healthy is a choice. Keeping your neighbors and co-workers healthy is a choice. Let’s all make the right choices.”
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