Masks will be required for all students and staff when they return to school and for all public gatherings and retail environments statewide, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves announced Tuesday.
"We know that with this virus, times change every single day," Reeves said. "The data changes, the situation changes, and we've got to be prepared to change as well."
Reeves also announced that the academic year for grades 7-12 in "hot spot" counties of Bolivar, Coahoma, Forrest, George, Hinds, Panola, Sunflower and Washington will be delayed.
Both Meridian Public schools and Lauderdale County schools are requiring students and staff to wear masks when schools reopen.
Meridian students will begin the year on Aug. 10 using online learning. The earliest students would return to campus for in-person instruction would be Sept. 8, the district said.
Lauderdale County School District students will start school on Aug. 10 under a staggered schedule. After Labor Day, students will attend classes five days a week, with some days involving hybrid or distance learning.
Christina Woodall, whose four children attend Lauderdale County schools, said students should be required to wear masks in the hallways, but not all day in the classroom.
She said that COVID-19 guidelines should be left up to local districts.
“I think it is up to the school district, because each one has different needs,” she said.
Dobbs issues statewide order
State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs issued a statewide order Tuesday afternoon requiring all Mississippi residents diagnosed with COVID-19 to immediately isolate at home.
“We have a lot of COVID activity throughout the state right now, so it is absolutely critical that anyone infected with COVID-19, and not hospitalized, must remain in the home or other appropriate residential location for 14 days from onset of illness (or from the date of a positive test for those who are asymptomatic),” Dobbs said in a news release.
"The failure or refusal to obey the lawful order of a health officer is, at a minimum, a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $500.00 (41-3-59) or imprisonment for six months or both," according to the release. "If a life-threatening disease is involved, failure or refusal to obey the lawful order of a health officer is a felony, punishable by a fine of up to $5,000.00 or imprisonment for up to five years or both (41-23-2)."
The Mississippi State Department of Health reported 25 new cases of COVID-19 in Lauderdale County Tuesday, for a total of 1,354 and 88 total deaths.
Data released by the health department as of Saturday shows the age group in the county with the highest total of cases, 219, is 18-29, followed by residents 50-59 with 209 cases.
Of the county residents who have died, records show two were aged 30-39, four were 40-49, five were 50-59, 18 were 60-69, 28 were 70-79, 21 were 80-89 and 10 were 90 and older.
Statewide, MSDH reported 1,074 new cases Tuesday, for a total of 62,199 and 42 additional deaths, for a total of 1,753.
Records show 310 cases and 25 deaths in Clarke County, 227 cases and 15 deaths in Kemper County, 1,232 cases and 88 deaths in Neshoba County and 526 cases and 11 deaths in Newton County.
As of Sunday, 42,391 Mississippi residents were presumed recovered, according to MSDH.
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