JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves announced Wednesday a statewide shelter-in-place order due to COVID-19.
The announcement was made during a Facebook Live at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday from Jackson, Mississippi.
The order will begin Friday at 5 p.m. and will end April 20 at 8 a.m.
“This will not be easy for anyone, but we believe it is the right course of action,” Reeves said. “We believe that this is the right tool at the right time to save lives.”
Reeves’ announcement came on the same day that his Republican counterparts in Florida and Georgia issued similar mandates.
Mississippi has surpassed 1,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and has had more than 20 deaths.
Critics, like Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland, say these kinds of restrictions should have been ordered much sooner, especially in areas like Desoto County, which has 94 confirmed Coronavirus cases. That’s the 2nd most in the state.
Jesse Medlin is president of the Desoto County Board of Supervisors.
“In my opinion, we were already doing most of this stuff,” he says.
But no one was being ordered to stay home and many non-essential businesses were allowed to stay open as long as they only let ten people in at a time. Still, county officials say they were following the Governor’s lead.
Desoto County Sheriff Bill Rasco says he’ll send deputies across the county to break up crowds and make sure businesses that need to be closed stay closed.
“This is a major deal now. You gotta take this serious,” he says, “We’re going to continue to enforce the law and do what we have to do to keep our citizens safe.”
Health officials have said the order was needed to prevent hospitals from becoming overwhelmed.
Southaven resident Kim Jones said she’s glad the governor signed the shelter in place order. She used the time to walk outside with her parents while carefully practicing social distancing.
“At this time, we need a stronger stand because this is a pandemic, so we really need a stronger stand from our governor,” she said.
Reeves’ order will close all amusement parks, playgrounds and parks, but not walking trails. Nonessential businesses like movie theaters and bowling alleys also must close.
The order stresses the importance of social distancing.
“I think it’s important,” Olive Branch resident Beth Kruger said. “I mean everybody else is doing it, and I think it’s the way we gotta get this thing under control, so we can get our lives back to normal and get people back to work. That’s the most important thing.”