Mississippians experienced a tough week between devastating tornadoes sweeping across the Pine Belt and the state’s COVID-19 pandemic cases peaking, according to state health official predictions.

On Easter Sunday, 14 Mississippians lost their lives and countless others lost their homes and farms to some of the largest tornadoes on record, forcing Gov. Tate Reeves to declare another state of emergency for South Mississippi. On Sunday, April 19, 2020, more deadly storms ravaged through the state, as well.

Reeves also announced last week that Mississippi’s public schools would be close for in-person learning the remainder of the school year, but indicated all districts should continue with distance learning.

On Friday, April 17, 2020, Reeves announced a seven-day extension to the state’s “shelter-in-place” order, set to expire Monday, April 20, 2020. The “shelter-in-place” order requires all Mississippians stay at home unless they are going to get an essential need or perform essential work, however it will begin allowing some non-essential businesses to operate within a limited scope, including curbside pickup and delivery options for stores. Reeves also re-opened state beaches and lakes. The new “shelter-in-place” order can be found here.

Reeves said he was hopeful in opening the state back up soon, but must extend the order to continue slowing the spread of COVID-19 and give healthcare providers the ability to care for critical patients as best as possible.

“I have to ask you for one more week. One more week of vigilance. One more week of sheltering in place,” Reeves said. “…We need one more week to break the back of our enemy.”

In order to restart Mississippi, Reeves created a committee of business leaders to advise him. To view the committee’s plan, click here.

As of April 20, 2020, Mississippi reported 4,512 total cases of COVID-19 and 169 deaths from the virus. Mississippi has been a front-runner in testing for the virus with more than 51,000 people being tested.

At the beginning of Mississippi’s COVID-19 response, the Mississippi Legislature agreed to adjourn on March 18, 2020 and return on April 1, 2020, but after Reeves issued the “shelter-in-place” order, Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann and Speaker Philip Gunn decided it was not appropriate to reconvene. The legislature will meet again when the Hosemann and Gunn agree on a time.

While Mississippians are at home or working in an essential business, Hosemann has asked churches and all Mississippians to ring a bell or make a joyful noise every day at 6 p.m. during the “shelter-in-place” order to support healthcare professionals on the front line. Gunn has also been giving daily Facebook Live updates that can be found here.

More information about Mississippi’s COVID-19 statistics can be found on the Mississippi Department of Health’s website. More information about Mississippi’s “shelter-in-place” order can be found in the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation’s COVID-19 Resource Document.