’Shelter-in-Place’ order coming to Mississippi; Rural towns face unique challenges

’Shelter-in-Place’ order coming to Mississippi; Rural towns face unique challenges
’Shelter-in-Place’ order coming to Mississippi; Rural towns face unique challenges (Source: WMC Action News 5)

DESOTO COUNTY, Miss. (WMC) - Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves signed an executive order Wednesday mandating all non-essential employees to shelter in place.

The order goes into effect Friday at 5 p.m.

“We believe this is the right tool at the right time to save lives,” said Gov. Reeves.

Reeves told Mississippians to only venture out for essentials like food, medicine or to get some fresh air.

Walking trails will remain open, but places like parks and museums must close to the public.

The stricter guidelines come as the Magnolia State saw 136 new COVID-19 cases in one day, totaling 1,037 total cases in the state.

DeSoto County has the second most reported cases in the state with just over 90 confirmed cases.

“I think it will all come down in the next couple of weeks if we all do what the governor says and do our part,”said DeSoto County Board of Supervisors President Jessie Medlin.

Mississippi governor issues 'shelter-in-place' order

He says they plan to follow the governor’s orders including shutting down parks for the next two weeks.

However, he says a majority of the businesses in DeSoto County are already abiding by the new rules that don’t go into effect until Friday.

"I say 95% are already doing it. I don't see big gatherings," said Medlin.

The new shelter-in-place order is statewide including rural Mississippi that faces a unique risk.

Dr. Patrick Washington lives in Ashland, Mississippi and is organizing a Rural COVID-19 Task Force.

“You know this is a challenge all over America, but we’re talking about rural America. There is one pharmacy. There is one gas station in most communities. So we have the possibility one person impacting the entire community,” said Washington.

Washington is a local pastor and principal in Memphis.

He says rural areas have limited resources. With no services such as DoorDash or Uber Eats, it can be difficult to keep large crowds out of grocery stores.

He's coordinating an effort for grocery delivery and working with local leaders in 5 rural North Mississippi counties such to push the message of social distancing.

"Sometimes it's a matter of having a voice that you're familiar with to say those things," said Washington.

Washington is looking for volunteers for the Rural COVID-19 Task Force. For more information, call 662-540-5775 or email ruralcovid19@gmail.com.

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