Updated at 9:50 a.m. Sunday:

The Mississippi Department of Health reported 67 new cases of COVID-19 in Mississippi Sunday morning, bringing the state total to 207, still with just one death.

No cases were reported in Lauderdale County and neighboring Clarke, Kemper, Newton and Neshoba counties in the latest update.

The MSDH plans to set up six drive-up testing sites in the state with assistance from the National Guard and the Mississippi Highway Patrol.

The sites are aimed at people with COVID-19 symptoms such as fever of 100.4 or greater and severe cough or chest pain, according to the department of health. 

The Mississippi Coronavirus hotline is available at 877-978-6453.


East Mississippi residents are discovering a new world as restaurant dining rooms and churches are emptied, businesses are closing their doors to the public, a temperature check will be needed to enter a county building and drive-thru is the order of the day -- even for liquor.

The changes come in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The Mississippi Department of Health reported 60 new cases of COVID-19 Saturday morning, bringing the state's total to 140.

No cases have been confirmed in Lauderdale County or neighboring Clarke, Newton, Neshoba and Kemper counties, but the illness has been discovered in 45 of the state's 82 counties.

The highest totals reported were in DeSoto with nine and Hinds with seven. Among the counties reporting their first cases in Saturday's update are Attala, Clay, Union and Clay.

The health department's laboratory tested more than 770 people, according to the report. Of the diagnosed cases, 24% are being treated in hospitals, according to the health department.

One death has been reported for the state.

The health department issued a recommendation Friday evening that all restaurant and bars suspend dine-in service for the foreseeable future. Restaurants may still offer carryout or delivery orders.

“This will in no way affect gas stations, pharmacies, grocery stores or food marts” MSDH State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs said in a statement.

Many restaurants began following that policy this week, and other vendors are following suit. Freddie's in Meridian was asking customers not to come in the store if they were sick, coughing, sneezing or had a runny nose, but they could call from their car or honk three times and someone would come to their car to fill their order.

The state health department is also recommending that Mississippi residents not attend funerals, weddings, church services or other community or social events with expected attendance of more than 10 people.

While wedding planners work to rearrange celebration plans, pastors have been connecting with their congregations through social media and are making plans to livestream their services. Educators are preparing to deliver school and college lessons online.

County takes steps

The Lauderdale County Board of Supervisors is also making plans on how public business can progress. The board voted Friday morning to close the county agriculture center to the public effective immediately due to the coronavirus.

County offices will remain open to the public with essential staff, with the exception of the Agri-Center, tax collector’s office and the Meridian/Lauderdale County Tourism Bureau. Certain tax collector office services will be available online and through the mail.

Beginning Monday, all visitors and employees at various county facilities, including the courthouse and Raymond P. Davis County Annex Building, will be required to have their temperature checked by health care professionals and answer a screening questionnaire before they are permitted to enter. Anyone with a temperature of 100.4 or higher will be asked to leave.

The facilities received a deep clean last week, and cleaning crews sanitized public surfaces. The county also ordered sensor-operated hand sanitizer pumps and other additional cleaning supplies.

Access to the courthouse, annex building and youth court will be restricted to one entrance, beginning Monday. The public will enter the courthouse and annex building through the west entrances of each building off Constitution Avenue. Only the front entrance of youth court will be open.

The Lauderdale County Detention Facility has suspended visitations.

Animal Control is open by appointment.

County leaders will reassess plans next week.

Under House Bill 1647, all county employees will continue to be paid, County Administrator Chris Lafferty said.

The private sector

While many private employers are continuing to pay employees who have been ordered to stay home, that policy isn't universal.

The Mississippi Department of Employment Security is offering some relief. Mississippi workers who are not able to work due to COVID-19 will be eligible to file for unemployment benefits, the department announced Friday.

MDES modified compensation rules to allow workers to file a claim for unemployment benefits who are affected based upon these measures below:

-- Those who are quarantined by a medical professional or a government agency,

--Those who are laid off or sent home without pay for an extended period by their employers due to COVID-19 concerns,

--Those who are diagnosed with COVID-19,

--Or, those who are caring for an immediate family member who is diagnosed with COVID-19.

Claims may be filed at www.mdes.ms.gov or by calling 1-888-844-3577.

There is aid available, also, for small business owners. The U.S. Small Business Administration announced Friday it is offering low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to Mississippi small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of COVID-19.

SBA acted under its own authority, as provided by the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act that was recently signed by the president, to declare a disaster following a request received from Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves on March 18, according to a news release.

The disaster declaration makes SBA assistance available throughout Mississippi.

"Small businesses, private non-profit organizations of any size, small agricultural cooperatives and small aquaculture enterprises that have been financially impacted as a direct result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) since Jan. 31, 2020, may qualify for Economic Injury Disaster Loans of up to $2 million to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses which could have been met had the disaster not occurred,” SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza said in a statement.

The loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills," he said. 

Applicants may apply online and receive additional information at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela or  by calling 800-659-2955 or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.

Dave Bohrer contributed to this report.

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