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.

Cases: 159036

Reported Deaths: 3879
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto10563104
Hinds10414204
Harrison7397113
Jackson6655128
Rankin6057107
Lee540396
Madison5120107
Forrest394786
Jones376188
Lauderdale3663147
Lafayette341053
Washington3321108
Lamar301950
Oktibbeha255262
Lowndes252867
Bolivar248084
Panola237353
Neshoba2280122
Marshall225051
Leflore211191
Monroe209778
Pontotoc208131
Lincoln200566
Sunflower194155
Warren183058
Tate180451
Union172926
Copiah170840
Pike166760
Scott161330
Yazoo161340
Itawamba159936
Alcorn159328
Pearl River158969
Coahoma155943
Prentiss154931
Simpson154053
Adams147252
Grenada145445
Leake141844
Holmes134461
Covington130040
Tippah130030
George129525
Winston128726
Hancock127641
Wayne123024
Attala122834
Marion121447
Tishomingo114043
Chickasaw110732
Newton110529
Tallahatchie99427
Clay96127
Clarke94853
Jasper87023
Stone82015
Calhoun79513
Walthall79330
Montgomery78426
Carroll75515
Lawrence74614
Smith74216
Yalobusha74228
Noxubee73317
Perry68726
Tunica63019
Greene62422
Jefferson Davis59617
Claiborne59216
Amite57615
Humphreys55219
Quitman5107
Benton50418
Kemper48018
Webster47714
Wilkinson40722
Jefferson38312
Choctaw3637
Franklin3635
Sharkey32917
Issaquena1214
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 256828

Reported Deaths: 3711
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson34214511
Mobile20299366
Madison13925150
Tuscaloosa13591156
Montgomery12659238
Shelby1095877
Baldwin9163137
Lee792566
Morgan710851
Etowah677467
Calhoun6695121
Marshall665757
Houston548239
DeKalb504738
Cullman472043
St. Clair451857
Limestone447546
Lauderdale436054
Elmore427564
Walker3818111
Talladega374457
Jackson350723
Colbert336443
Blount310043
Autauga287342
Franklin259734
Coffee254115
Dale242054
Dallas232932
Chilton230841
Russell22813
Covington227934
Escambia206131
Tallapoosa189191
Chambers185950
Pike162214
Clarke161819
Marion146136
Winston141924
Lawrence135336
Pickens127720
Geneva12638
Marengo125224
Bibb123938
Barbour120629
Butler118842
Randolph105922
Cherokee105524
Hale99732
Fayette96316
Clay93525
Washington93319
Henry8946
Monroe83811
Lowndes82129
Cleburne79914
Macon76522
Crenshaw72930
Conecuh72414
Lamar7138
Bullock70919
Perry6927
Wilcox64918
Sumter58922
Greene44218
Choctaw43519
Coosa3724
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