This week in Senate business, we continue to remain in recess due to the COVID-19 state of emergency. The Lt. Governor and Speaker of the House made the decision to reconvene the legislature on May 18th to complete the work of the state. The legislature must still complete the general legislation and formulate a budget before June 30th. With the shutdown of businesses, the state is facing difficult funding decisions across the state.
Unfortunately, the number of reported cases continues to rise. As of Sunday, Scott County rose from 130 to 249 cases, Newton County rose from 26 to 61 cases, and Lauderdale rose from 202 to 295 cases in total. Though we are expected to be at the peak, our district continues to add cases at exponential rates. With the numbers rising as they are, most of us now know someone who personally suffers from the virus. I hope that the personal aspect of this virus will cause people to think twice before letting their guards down.
Starting on Monday, the Governor’s “Safer in Place” order took effect. This order is aimed at taking steps to open some non-essential businesses. It is crucial to remember that certain businesses will remain closed. Here are the major elements of the new order:
• All Mississippians are encouraged to stay at home as much as possible. You are still responsible for the health and safety of your family.
• The elderly, those with pre-existing conditions, and those with compromised immune systems should continue to shelter-in-place.
• No social gathering of ten or more.
• Most closed businesses can re-open, under certain health and safety mandates developed with our health department including:
Stores must reduce capacity by at least 50 percent to avoid crowds.
Businesses must monitor employees and send any symptomatic employee home.
Businesses should consider utilizing masks and other protective equipment.
Businesses must encourage social distancing.
All common areas shall remain closed.
• The following places shall remain closed:
Places of amusement or entertainment: things like movie theaters and museums.
Beauty salons, gyms, clubs, spas, tattoo parlors, and barbershops.
Bars and casinos.
• Restaurants will continue to be limited to drive-through, carry-out, or delivery.
• Evictions are still prohibited.
• Healthcare professionals can begin to do more procedures under rules set by the health department.
This “Safer-at-Home” order is not a return to normal. I am concerned that we are not out of the woods yet. For the next 14 days, I encourage you to be patient and to keep the social distancing up. There are reports of some businesses starting to open against the executive order. I encourage you to ask yourself if it is worth risking the spread of the virus to your customers. This virus is still active and serious. Take precautions, use good hygiene, and protect yourself and customers. You should do what you think is best for your family. There is no state order that can replace your common sense.
As I conclude this article, I want to thank you all for trusting me to represent you in Jackson. I also want to ask you to keep your local, state and national leaders in your prayers. Lastly, I hope that you will pray for and support your first responders, your healthcare professionals, your grocery workers, your essential retail workers, and all those standing on the front lines. God bless you all.