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Supervisors amend order, discuss Covid-19 cases

During the Pearl River County Board of Supervisors meeting held Monday, the Board adopted Governor Tate Reeves’ Executive Order No. 1477, which loosens some restrictions on businesses and medical providers and discussed how local hospitals are faring.

More people attended Monday’s Board meeting than any of the meetings held since the shelter-in-place order went into effect at the beginning of the month, with some county department heads and local business owners present. Still, attendees sat far apart from one another and instead of shaking hands people greeted each other with waves or by bumping elbows. Only one attendee wore a face mask.

Order 1477

The Governor’s Shelter-in-Place order ended Monday morning, but Friday’s Safer-at-Home Order, Executive Order 1477 which is in effect until May 11 at 8 a.m., still limits restaurants to delivery, drive-through or carry out and keeps fitness and personal grooming businesses, like gyms or salons, closed except for curbside or retail delivery. Residents are still not allowed to gather in groups of 10 or more for social or non-essential gatherings in closed spaces.

Utility shut offs and evictions are still not allowed.

Businesses and non-profits can reopen, but are encouraged to allow telework and work from home as much as possible. Retail businesses can re-open, but can’t have more than 50 percent customer capacity at any given time. Employers are told to make special accommodations for employees who are vulnerable to COVID-19 to reduce their risk of exposure.

Residents are encouraged to limit grocery trips to once a week and to use a list to reduce return trips. People who are more vulnerable to COVID-19 are encouraged to continue sheltering in place.

Playgrounds, amusement parks, museums, movie theaters and bowling alleys must remain closed.

Healthcare providers are allowed to offer non-emergent elective medical procedures and surgeries, including dental care. All patients have to be screened for COVID-19 symptoms or exposure.

Local Hospitals

County Administrator Adrain Lumpkin gave an update from the local hospitals. The percentage of people testing positive for COVID-19 at Highland Community Hospital has been consistent over the first three weeks of April, said Lumpkin. The county has not had a spike in cases, but also has not seen a downturn in the number of new cases, he said. On Thursday, Highland had more patients in Picayune with COVID-19 than it had at any one time previously—15 in-patients with two on ventilators, said Lumpkin. As of Friday at 3 p.m., Highland had 14 in-patients with COVID-19, with four of those patients in the ICU, according to the Forrest Health website.

District III Supervisor Hudson Holliday pointed out that only people with symptoms receive tests, so the county does not have a full picture of the spread of COVID-19.

Lumpkin said Highland has approximately 20 tests on hand. Emergency Operations Manager Danny Manley said he put in a request for 250 test kits, because the Mississippi State Department of Health is asking Forrest Health to test everyone at the Pearl River County Hospital and Nursing Home. The Poplarville hospital had two staff members test positive for COVID-19, although those staff members have since recovered and are back at work, said Lumpkin. A worker at Forrest Health’s nursing home in Prentiss also tested positive, so all staff and residents at that facility must also be tested, said Lumpkin. Between the two facilities, Forrest Health will need about 500 tests, he said.

Manley said anyone who thinks they may have COVID-19 can call the State Department of Health hotline number at 877-978-6453, their physician or 911, who can help them find out if they qualify for a test and refer them to get tested.

Acquiring personal protective equipment has gone well and no medical providers in the county have had to go without gowns, masks or gloves, said Manley. AAA Ambulance Services staff also did a good job of vetting emergency calls to ensure ambulance service personnel respond to possible COVID-19 cases instead of other first responders, Manley said.

Read the Order

Executive Order 1477