While many Mississippians have pressed “play” for the summer, Gov. Tate Reeves hit “pause” on Wednesday.

The plan to fully reopen the state as of July 1 is on hold as COVID-19 case counts spike in Mississippi.

During a briefing on coronavirus Wednesday afternoon, Reeves implored Mississippians to take pandemic precautions.

“This is not a hoax,” he said. “It is a danger. It is an imminent threat to all of us.”

With the reopening paused, “We are considering what we must do moving forward,” said Reeves.

Hospitalizations were at a peak on Wednesday, and daily case counts are on an upward trend, topping 600 for the three days leading up to Wednesday’s briefing.

Case counts have accelerated in area counties, as well. During the second half of June, Alcorn County’s case count nearly doubled from 30 to 56. Prentiss County went from 66 to 98 (up 48 percent); Tishomingo County rose from 47 to 68 (up 45 percent); and Tippah County climbed from 94 to 123 (up 31 percent).

Reeves expressed frustration that many people are ignoring the virus threat.

“It’s not that our current rules are too loose,” he said. “Our challenge is that our people aren’t following even the simplest of rules. Additional orders are useless if people will not follow what we have in place now.”

State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs said the little things can make a big difference.

“If we can maintain the simple things – 6 feet, a mask and small groups only – we wouldn’t be having this conversation,” said Dobbs. “The virus would be petering out on its own. The draconian measures that we had to implement early on are not necessary if people will follow the simple rules that will keep them safe.”

The trend in transmission continues to be a shift to the 20 to 29 age group, who are picking it up while going about normal activity while out and about in their communities, said Dobbs, and transmitting the virus to older, more vulnerable relatives. All other age groups have seen increases, as well.

“I’m begging every one of my fellow Mississippians to please play your part. It will take all of us to make a difference,” said Reeves.

The state COVID-19 briefings have been few in the last couple of weeks as Reeves reviews and signs bills.

Staff Writer

Jebb Johnston is a 1991 Alcorn Central High School graduate and a 1995 Ole Miss journalism graduate. His primary beats are city and county government.

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