COVID-19 update: Governor gives guidelines for churches reopening

Published 5:28 pm Tuesday, May 19, 2020

As the state continues to reopen, more confirmed cases of coronavirus are announced daily, and the governor has given suggested guidelines to safely reopen houses of worship.

One person has died in Lincoln County from COVID-19 since Thursday, bringing the total number of deaths in the county to 18.

There have also been 21 additional confirmed cases reported in the county, with only one additional case in a long-term care facility, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the county to 218 according to data published by the Mississippi state Department of Health as of 6 p.m. Monday.

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Statewide, an additional 903 cases and 61 deaths have been confirmed. In Mississippi, there are a total of 11,704 confirmed cases and 554 have died. Of those, 1,434 cases and 271 deaths have been from residents and staff of long-term care facilities around the state.

MSDH is also now reporting the number of confirmed cases that are presumed recovered. Health officials are estimating that 7,681 people have recovered from COVID-19 in Mississippi. This number includes confirmed cases where at least 14 days have passed that have not resulted in hospitalization and cases that have resulted in hospitalization — or the hospitalization status is unknown — and 21 or more days have passed since positive testing. Deaths are not counted in the total.

Gov. Tate Reeves is continuing to work to re-open more of the state. In his Tuesday briefing, Reeves noted that his office would release guidelines for churches that have shut down to re-open.

“In our state, churches were never shut down,” he said. “It was important to protect our freedom of religion. I did reach out to pastors. I reached out to churchgoers. I have been asking them to do the right thing.”

Reeves said there are eight pages of guidelines for state churches, including replacing choirs with solo performances. Reeves encouraged pastors not to rush to re-open, asking them to wait at least one or two weeks before implementing the guidelines. Reeves also indicated that his family would continue to worship from home.

As of Monday, an additional 10,937 people have been tested for the disease state-wide, bringing the total number of people tested in the state to 117,760. Of those, King’s Daughters Medical Center has sent in 1,155 tests, and 158 have been returned positive.

Both MSDH and KDMC are offering testing. More information can be found at Mississippi also has a COVID-19 hotline available at 877-978-6453. People who want to receive tests from KDMC should call 601-835-9455 before visiting.

The screening site can be found by following the signs on Brookman Drive behind the hospital.