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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.

Cases: 308111

Reported Deaths: 7122
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto20826248
Hinds19910411
Harrison17510302
Rankin13334276
Jackson13118243
Madison9908210
Lee9871170
Jones8297160
Forrest7525147
Lauderdale7198237
Lowndes6272144
Lamar611084
Lafayette6039117
Washington5281133
Bolivar4772129
Oktibbeha455897
Panola4445103
Pearl River4428141
Warren4284118
Marshall4276100
Pontotoc416972
Monroe4061132
Union403975
Neshoba3994176
Lincoln3871109
Hancock372885
Leflore3468124
Sunflower329589
Tate322782
Pike3188104
Scott310872
Yazoo304468
Alcorn298065
Itawamba297177
Copiah293265
Coahoma289778
Simpson288284
Tippah284868
Prentiss275759
Marion266079
Leake261373
Wayne261341
Grenada255384
Covington254780
Adams246082
Newton245161
George238147
Winston225981
Tishomingo222267
Jasper219748
Attala213473
Chickasaw205057
Holmes186872
Clay182854
Stone179331
Clarke177076
Tallahatchie175540
Calhoun163531
Yalobusha159236
Smith158834
Walthall130643
Greene129433
Lawrence126423
Noxubee126233
Montgomery125542
Perry125138
Carroll120926
Amite120141
Webster113532
Jefferson Davis105432
Tunica102725
Claiborne101330
Benton97325
Kemper95428
Humphreys94332
Franklin82123
Quitman78916
Choctaw73417
Wilkinson64928
Jefferson64828
Sharkey49617
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 520503

Reported Deaths: 10722
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson754091487
Mobile38938798
Madison33898495
Tuscaloosa25297443
Montgomery23992567
Shelby23124239
Baldwin20652300
Lee15541165
Calhoun14301311
Morgan14145270
Etowah13665346
Marshall11967219
Houston10381278
Elmore10001200
Limestone9822147
Cullman9481188
St. Clair9435234
Lauderdale9223227
DeKalb8748181
Talladega8071171
Walker7100275
Jackson6762110
Autauga6734103
Blount6497135
Colbert6210130
Coffee5404112
Dale4766110
Russell429038
Franklin419982
Chilton4087109
Covington4056114
Tallapoosa3898146
Escambia388574
Dallas3531149
Chambers3503122
Clarke346560
Marion3066100
Pike305876
Lawrence295395
Winston272572
Bibb256459
Marengo248661
Geneva245875
Pickens233059
Barbour225255
Hale218775
Butler212566
Fayette209260
Henry187744
Cherokee182144
Randolph176941
Monroe172040
Washington164238
Macon154848
Clay149555
Crenshaw149257
Cleburne146241
Lamar139334
Lowndes136553
Wilcox124327
Bullock121340
Conecuh109128
Perry107926
Sumter102932
Coosa99328
Greene91034
Choctaw58724
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Showers linger across the area as a cold front passes Wednesday afternoon. This will keep temperatures far cooler than average. Some of these showers may linger into the overnight as well.
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