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Mississippi gov seeks to help unemployed amid virus outbreak

(AP) — Confirmed coronavirus infections climbed to more than 200 in Mississippi, and the governor announced plans to provide quicker access to unemployment benefits for residents affected by the outbreak.
The more than 200 cases were reported as of 6 p.m. Saturday, according to state health department figures updated Sunday. A single COVID-19 death has been reported in the state.
Gov. Tate Reeves on Saturday took action to help relieve burdens on the state’s workforce, according to a news release. He signed an executive order instructing the Mississippi Department of Employment Security to expedite payments to unemployed workers and relax collection requirements on employers.
“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and their employees are the people who keep our economy going,” the governor said in an announcement made on Facebook Live. “We have worked very closely with the Mississippi Department of Employment Security to help employees of small businesses that are having a difficult time keeping their doors open in these challenging times.”
Reeves waived a one-week waiting period for unemployment benefits for all claims filed from March 8 to June 27. He also suspended work search requirements that applicants must normally meet to receive benefits.
The governor also suspended collection activity, including enrollment of liens and tax garnishments.
The city of Vicksburg is implementing a city-wide curfew beginning Monday from 11 p.m. until 5 a.m., according to the mayor’s office. People are not allowed to be on city streets during those times, although people traveling to and from work, medical workers and first-responders and law enforcement would be exempt from the curfew. The city also directed restaurants to end on-site dining, but take-out and delivery could continue.
The Mississippi Law Enforcement Officer’s Training Academy suspended operations until further notice, the Mississippi Department of Public Safety announced.
The vast majority of people infected with the novel coronavirus get only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, and recover in about two weeks. But many will need hospitalization. Particularly vulnerable are older adults and those with existing health problems who can develop severe complications, including pneumonia.
COVID-19 testing will begin next week at the Mississippi Fairgrounds in Jackson. The drive-thru testing site will open by appointment starting Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for those showing symptoms such as fever or respiratory problems, state health officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said.