The new wave of restrictions announced for 13 counties, including Sunflower County, today by Gov. Tate Reeves will likely go into effect early next week.
Reeves is calling on local authorities and businesses for “buy-in” to help enforce the new rules, which includes restrictions on indoor and outdoor gatherings and requires face coverings for shoppers.
Reeves outlined on Thursday afternoon what went into his decision making when it came down to which counties to target.
“We have, since the beginning of this, the best in which to manage this situation is to focus on those areas where the most transmission is occurring,” Reeves said during his daily press briefing. “We didn’t just pick these counties out of the blue. We decided the right metric we would put in place is that if you have had at least 200 cases within the past 14 days.”
Reeves said the number one concern about recent spike in cases in places like Sunflower County is overwhelming the health care system.
“If we don’t work very, very hard in those areas, we’re going to have more than 200 cases over the next 14 days,” he said.
The number of confirmed cases in Sunflower County jumped to 452 on Thursday.
Reeves said this new order, which he plans to sign soon, will not have any effect on bars, restaurants or casinos, which are already under other executive orders.
Folks who are out grocery shopping in Sunflower County will have to wear a mask, Reeves said, and indoor gatherings must be held to 10 or fewer, and outdoor gatherings must be held to 20 or fewer.
Reeves said he is placing these restrictions because he has seen them work in the past with targeted orders on places like Neshoba, Leake, Attalla and Jasper Counties, among others.
“What we know for sure is that when there is local buy-in, these additional restrictive measures work,” Reeves said.
Reeves also called on hospitals to adhere to state law he says asks and requires them to maintain 25% of capacity for COVID-19 patients.
That would be around a dozen beds reserved for COVID-19 patients at South Sunflower County Hospital’s 49-bed facility.
North Sunflower Medical Center in Ruleville has 35 beds, including 10 usually used for behavioral health, but that unit has been closed since the start of the pandemic and has been used as the COVID-19 unit ever since, hospital officials said.