Virus Outbreak Mississippi

Mississippi Republican Gov. Tate Reeves speaks with reporters outside the Governor's Mansion to give an update on the current situation of COVID-19 in the state and discuss Mississippi's ongoing response to slow the spread, Tuesday, March 24, 2020 in Jackson, Miss. Reeves and his family spent about a week and a half in self isolation following a trip to Spain to watch a daughter's soccer play. While the family was not tested, they reported none of the symptoms associated with the virus. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said Tuesday that he will issue an executive order that further restricts people's physical interactions to try to slow the spread of the coronavirus, but he is not issuing a stay-at-home order, and it was not immediately clear whether any steps will be taken to enforce the things he is ordering.

Reeves said his executive order will tell businesses to allow "every possible employee" to work from home. He said it will define essential businesses "to give clear guidance to our partners on the local level, should they decide to take additional action."

"Understand that we are not at the end of this pandemic. In fact, we may still be at the beginning stages of this fight," Reeves said during a news conference outside the Governor's Mansion.

Governors in several other states, including Louisiana, are putting tighter limits on people's movements, including stay-at-home orders.

He said his executive order will tell Mississippi restaurants and bars statewide to close their dining rooms and offer only carry-out or delivery food orders. Some cities and counties have already taken this step.

The Republican governor said he is encouraging — but still not mandating — that people remain home when possible and stop gathering in groups of 10 or more, even for events like funerals, weddings and church services.

He said the order will also tell people to stop visiting hospitals, nursing homes or long-term care facilities that house the people most vulnerable to becoming sick.

According to figures reported by the state Health Department on Tuesday, Mississippi had at least 320 coronavirus cases and one death as of Monday evening. The death was a Hancock County resident with other underlying health conditions, and he died last week in a Louisiana hospital.

Reeves said the state income tax filing deadline has been moved from April 15 to May 15.

The governor said he knows of no confirmed coronavirus cases in Mississippi prisons or county jails, but he also said he did not know whether anyone in those facilities has been tested. The state prison system stopped allowing visitors several days ago, and Reeves said workers are increasing sanitation efforts.

Mississippi public schools are closed until at least April 17, but some public and private schools have started online classes. He said that as of Tuesday, more than 360 sites were providing lunches for students, either for pickup or delivery.

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