Citing a need to bridge the gap until the time that vaccines are readily available, Gov. Tate Reeves on Wednesday rolled out several new COVID-19 restrictions, including limitations on sports, in light of rising case numbers.
The new measures are:
Indoor sports venues for K-12 are limited to the lesser of four spectators per student participant or 250 ticketed spectators. Other indoor arenas are limited to the lesser of 10 percent seating capacity or 1,000 attendees.
For social gatherings where social distancing is not possible, groups are limited to no more than 10 in a single space indoors and no more than 50 in close proximity outdoors.
Face coverings are required in schools statewide whenever social distancing is not possible.
Face coverings continue to be required when indoors and interacting with the public in Alcorn and neighboring counties.
Reeves said hospitals must reserve 10 percent of capacity for COVID cases in order to be able to do elective procedures.
“If things get worse and our hospital capacity becomes even more of an issue, this is the first place that I’m going to tighten,” said Reeves. “We’ve seen about the same compliance with this order as we’ve seen from the general population wearing masks and avoiding crowds, which is to say most are trying, but they’re definitely not adhering to the letter of the rules. If we need to get more severe, eliminating elective procedures and stepping up enforcement will be the first step.”
Businesses are asked to make good faith efforts to comply with rules for social distancing and regular sanitation. Restaurants and bars must ensure at least 6 feet between each group and no groups of more than 10 in any one party.
The restriction on sports is because of the risk of indoor versus outdoor activity. State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs recently said he would recommend no one attend a sporting event as a spectator because of the current level of risk.
The Mississippi State Department of Health reported 2,746 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, “a phenomenal number,” said Dobbs, along with 24 deaths. Among those deaths are three in Tippah County, bringing that county’s death toll to 33. Magnolia Regional Health Center reported 21 patients hospitalized for treatment of COVID-19 as of Wednesday afternoon.
Attention is turning to the imminent distribution of vaccine in the state beginning with hospital workers and then every nursing home resident and employee.
“I would like to make sure everybody knows you cannot catch coronavirus from the coronavirus vaccine,” said Dobbs. “There is no virus in it. It’s just a simple piece of RNA that teaches your body how to recognize coronavirus.”
A sore arm is to be expected, however, and fatigue, chills and body aches are also possible.
Reeves encouraged residents to continue to take precautions.
“We strongly encourage everyone to wear a face covering,” he said. “Avoid large gatherings where you can, especially those that are indoors. Maintain social distancing. Practice good hygiene. Wash your hands and stay home if you feel sick.”