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Reeves backs lawsuit protection for businesses during virus

Gov. Tate Reeves speaking at a news conference in Jackson March 24.

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said Wednesday that he will ask state lawmakers to provide legal protection for businesses that might be sued if they reopen and customers or employees become ill with COVID-19.

Posted: Apr 29, 2020 11:59 PM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said Wednesday that he will ask state lawmakers to provide legal protection for businesses that might be sued if they reopen and customers or employees become ill with COVID-19.

“I am supportive of Mississippi providing liability protection for those businesses that are getting back open," Republican Reeves said in response to questions during a news conference. ”I think that would be a very good step for the state of Mississippi, and I will encourage our leaders in the Mississippi Legislature to pass legislation to do that."

Reeves said he does not think he could provide liability protection through an executive order. The Legislature is scheduled to return to the Capitol on May 18 to restart its session that was put on hold in mid-March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Reeves was also asked Wednesday whether Mississippi will cut off unemployment payments for people who choose not to return to work because they are concerned about contracting the highly contagious virus. The governor said he strongly encourages people to return to their jobs when possible. He noted that a federal boost to unemployment payments because of the virus expires at the end of July.

“I am confident that Mississippi's small businesses and business owners are going to work with their employees,” Reeves said. “I have had the opportunity to talk to business owners every single day, and they tend to love their employees."

Reeves said his current “safer at home" order, in effect until the morning of May 11, requires people who are medically vulnerable to remain home. He said that category of people, and people 65 or older, “need to work with their employer and try to do the right thing" about deciding when to return to work.

The state Health Department said Wednesday that Mississippi had at least 6,569 confirmed cases and 250 deaths from the coronavirus as of Tuesday evening. That was an increase of 227 cases and 11 deaths from the previous day. The state’s population is about 3 million.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick. For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the highly contagious virus can cause severe symptoms and be fatal.

For the first time on Wednesday, the Health Department listed an estimate of how many Mississippi residents are presumed to be recovered from the virus. As of Tuesday evening, the number was 3,413. The estimate is based on the length of time since people tested positive for the virus and survived — 21 days for those who were hospitalized and 14 days for those who were not. The estimate of presumed recoveries will be updated once a week.

The Health Department said Wednesday at least 752 coronavirus cases had been confirmed at long-term care facilities such as nursing homes.

Reeves's “safer at home” order took effect Monday, replacing a stricter stay-at-home order that was in place more than three weeks. The new order allows some businesses to reopen with limits on how many customers may be present, and it allows physicians to start offering some services that had been limited in recent weeks. Restaurants are still restricted to carry-out or delivery. Barber shops, salons, tattoo parlors and entertainment venues such as movie theaters remain closed. Gatherings of 10 or more people are still banned.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 35419

Reported Deaths: 1230
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds290851
DeSoto190019
Madison144638
Jones120349
Harrison113616
Rankin108715
Neshoba104577
Forrest99343
Lauderdale96381
Scott81915
Jackson77519
Washington72213
Copiah65315
Leake63520
Lee61222
Oktibbeha61128
Grenada5949
Warren59421
Holmes58641
Wayne56218
Yazoo5536
Lowndes54813
Lamar5347
Leflore53156
Lincoln52935
Pike49920
Lafayette4974
Sunflower4778
Monroe45635
Panola4486
Covington4355
Bolivar40518
Simpson3933
Attala38424
Newton37510
Tate35213
Adams35120
Pontotoc3466
Marion32712
Claiborne30111
Chickasaw29719
Winston29511
Pearl River28832
Noxubee2788
Jasper2776
Marshall2773
Walthall2627
Clay25811
Union25211
Smith24612
Clarke22325
Coahoma2226
Lawrence2092
Yalobusha2079
Tallahatchie1954
Kemper18414
Carroll18111
Montgomery1713
Calhoun1645
Humphreys16310
Itawamba1468
Tippah14511
Hancock14413
Webster13411
Jefferson1263
Tunica1233
Jefferson Davis1204
Prentiss1204
George1163
Greene11310
Amite1103
Alcorn1002
Quitman991
Wilkinson989
Tishomingo971
Perry874
Choctaw754
Stone742
Franklin542
Sharkey480
Benton460
Issaquena101
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 49892

Reported Deaths: 1077
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson6433170
Mobile4753139
Montgomery4430112
Tuscaloosa263253
Madison21199
Marshall192611
Shelby164225
Lee157237
Morgan12695
Baldwin120711
Walker106131
Elmore102920
Dallas9969
Etowah95114
DeKalb9417
Franklin93216
Autauga67614
Russell6750
Chambers67427
Unassigned65328
Butler65129
Tallapoosa62869
Limestone6223
Houston5857
Cullman5716
Lauderdale5686
St. Clair5133
Colbert4956
Calhoun4905
Lowndes48122
Escambia4808
Pike4725
Coffee4244
Jackson4182
Covington41412
Barbour3942
Dale3911
Talladega3897
Bullock37710
Marengo35211
Hale34823
Chilton3232
Clarke3126
Wilcox3038
Blount2961
Winston2965
Sumter29113
Marion27514
Pickens2696
Randolph2589
Monroe2553
Perry2362
Conecuh2308
Bibb2211
Macon2159
Choctaw21212
Greene1959
Henry1533
Washington1418
Crenshaw1273
Lawrence1250
Cherokee1237
Geneva960
Lamar871
Clay852
Fayette821
Coosa651
Cleburne421
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