Gov. Tate Reeves’ plan to reopen Mississippi is on track today, parks and restaurants returning to service as the COVID-19 “plateau” continues. The Legislature returns to session this afternoon to begin appropriating CARES Act relief funds. Photo courtesy State of Mississippi
Mississippi is on track to reopen its parks and restaurants today, as what Gov. Tate Reeves calls the COVID-19 “plateau” continues. This morning, the Mississippi State Department of Health reported 262 new cases of coronavirus disease detected yesterday, as well as 22 deaths, nine of which are the result of investigations from previous weeks. The 13 new deaths are more in line with last’s week’s rate than the preceding two days.
“We cannot allow the cure to be worse than the disease,” Reeves repeated at his daily coronavirus press conference yesterday. “We're already beginning to hear reports of small restaurants not able to open their doors because of this virus. My friends, we have a public-health crisis in this state. We also have an economic crisis in this state.”
The governor added that Mississippi’s new tax deadline was July 15, matching the updated federal deadline.
The day before yesterday, Tuesday, marked another record high for state COVID-19 deaths. The Mississippi Department of Health reported 32 casualties, with 27 more Mississippians newly succumbing to the virus. Five of those deaths were between April 4 and April 23. The previous record from May 5 reported 18 new deaths after accounting for 14 delayed death reports.
The new statewide total of COVID-19 cases is 8,686, with 396 Mississippians confirmed to have died of complications from COVID-19.
Data from MDSH continue to show that COVID-19 continues to disproportionately affect African Americans in Mississippi. More than 56% of cases reported are from black residents, even though they represent less than 38% of Mississippi’s population. Women, and black women in particular, are overrepresented in cases compared to all other demographics. Black Mississippians are also suffering disproportionate fatalities: here, fatal complications are affecting black men most of all.
‘Stage 2’ Begins, Legislature Returns
The news comes as Reeves turns up the “dimmer,” as he calls it, on relaxing restrictions on businesses and public gatherings. Stage 2 of the governor’s plan includes allowing restaurants to operate in-house dining as long as they maintain “strict social distancing and sanitation” with a maximum of 50% seating capacity.
Bars that do not offer food services must remain closed, although due to Mississippi’s strict liquor laws, bars statewide must serve food if they are not in a designated resort area. Parks are also now open, with groups of up to 20 people allowed to gather outdoors.
The State Legislature is set to resume session today at 1 p.m, with legislative leadership eager to appropriate the CARES Act funds the governor has previously warned the Legislature’s oversight may delay for weeks. “We know Mississippi's small businesses—our local restaurants, barber shops, hair salons and retail shops—need our help to get back on track. We intend to act (to) provide much-needed relief immediately.” Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann said on Facebook.
Read the JFP’s coverage of COVID-19 at jacksonfreepress.com/covid19. Get more details on preventive measures here. Read about announced closings and delays in Mississippi here. Read MEMA’s advice for a COVID-19 preparedness kit here.
Email information about closings and other vital related logistical details to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Email state reporter Nick Judin, who is covering COVID-19 in Mississippi, at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter at @nickjudin. Seyma Bayram is covering the outbreak inside the capital city and in the criminal-justice system. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter at @seymabayram0.