Gov. Reeves declares state of emergency, asks schools to close for a week

Published 2:03 pm Saturday, March 14, 2020

Governor Tate Reeves on Saturday declared a state of emergency in Mississippi over the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

The emergency declaration will allow state officials to access emergency funds and make changes to rules and regulations. Reeves said his declaration would give healthcare facilities the ability to implement emergency pandemic plans to fight the virus.

“I urge all Mississippians to use caution. This is not a time to panic—we are acting calmly and steadily,” Reeves said in a video. “In this state, we were prepared. We have a pandemic plan that is being followed to the letter. We have tremendous experts who are operating in a way that will protect the public health and save lives. We are listening to those experts, and following their lead every step of the way.”

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Reeves urged Mississippians to avoid large gatherings, including church services and sporting events. He said some state offices, including those that issue driver’s licenses, will close temporarily.

Reeves also asked all of the state’s schools to extend spring break by at least one week — a move many school districts had already started doing.

The Vicksburg Warren School District, Porter’s Chapel Academy and Vicksburg Catholic Schools had already announced they would remain closed on Monday and Tuesday. The Office of Education for the Catholic Diocese of Jackson announced Saturday that all Catholic schools and early learning centers will be closed for the week.

Vicksburg Warren School District spokesperson Christi Kilroy said district officials were meeting Saturday to formulate a plan moving forward.