Tuesday afternoon, Nov. 24, Gov. Tate Reeves added Union County to the list of high-risk counties that must take extra precautions against the spread of COVID-19.. Reeves also added six other northeast Mississippi counties to the list: Alcorn, Chickasaw, Lafayette, Prentiss, Tippah and Tishmingo.
Lee, Itawamba, Pontotoc, Marshall and Benton counties in northeast Mississippi were already on the list of high-risk COVID-19 counties
That means everyone must wear a face mask covering the mouth and nose whenever inside a public building and maintaining six feet of social distancing is not practical. One can only be exempted for medical reasons or some other specific cases cited in Executive Order 1527.
Gatherings are limited to no more than 10 persons in a single indoor space or 50 persons in an outdoor space if people are closer than six feet apart, unless everyone is from the same household. The size limit has exemptions for religious services, voting and classrooms.
Reeves made the announcement during a live update and noted that now half the counties in the state – 41 of 82 – are now considered high risk.
“There is much more COVID around us. Therefore there is a much greater risk that you may pass the virus to someone you love,” he said.
He urged people to wear masks, stay home and keep any gathering small. “I’m not going to stand up here and tell you you can’t do it, but the risk today is greater than any time since August,” he said. “I think Halloween helped contribute to where we are today so it behooves us to be smart going into Thanksgiving.”
Reeves had some potentially good news concerning vaccines.
If approval is given, he said the United States could have 22.5 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 15 million doses of the Moderna vaccine by the end of December.
Pfizer and Moderna have had trials, they are very safe and 95 percent effective, he said, and only await a peer review to confirm the efficacy and safety.
He cautioned that both vaccines require two separate injections about three weeks apart. “So that doesn’t mean we can all go back to normal before Christmas,” he said.
He said a distribution plan is well on the way. “It will be done appropriately, the right way, the way the department and I asked the federal government to distribute,” he said.
State health officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs gave an update on the number of cases and deaths, noting that deaths in Mississippi are up 18 percent above normal this year, which he attributed to COVID-19.
He added that there are more cases among children, who usually recover well, but that the incidence of mortality increases with age. For ages 50-64 it is 2.4 percent, but increases to 27 percent for those over 90.
Unfortunately, Thanksgiving gatherings often mix the young and old, increasing the danger of spreading the virus to more vulnerable individuals.
“You don’t have to feel symptoms to spread it,” he said. Concerning Thanksgiving, he said keep it small, restrict it to nuclear families, have it outdoors.
He said new therapeutic products are available, including Regeneron, which we should have in the near future.
But he also reminded everyone that a legally binding health order is in place requiring anyone who tests positive to be in isolation 10 days, and if you are around someone who has the virus you must quarantine for two weeks.
“Please wear a mask. Please do not take unnecessary risks. I know people are tired of hearing about the virus, tired of sacrificing,” Reeves concluded. “But the Bible says God does not give us more than we can handle.”
The most recent executive order runs through 5 p.m. Dec. 11.
COVID-19, executive order, Gov. Tate Reeves, high-risk, New Albany, Northeast Mississippi, Union County