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Reeves: Stay-at-home order to expire, but vigilance needed

JACKSON (AP) — Mississippi’s governor said the state’s stay-at-home order to curb the spread of the coronavirus will expire Monday, but he urged residents to remain vigilant and continue safe practices to stop the spread.

Gov. Tate Reeves said Friday that the stay-at-home order was meant to be temporary and that officials don’t believe the government can force Mississippians to stay in their homes “for months and months on end.”

Reeves said earlier models projected that Mississippi would be seeing about 90 deaths per day by this time, but eight people died yesterday and trends are pointing in a positive direction.

“We are containing the virus in our state,” Reeves said at Friday’s briefing. “We haven’t seen the rapid spike predicted by many. We haven’t seen the rapid spike seen in many other states.”

Reeves’s statewide stay-at-home order has been in place since April 3 and will be allowed to expire Monday morning.

That means that several retail businesses will be allowed to reopen, but they must limit customers in their stores at one time to no greater than 50 percent of their store capacity, the governor said.

Unlike Georgia, which on Friday reopened barbershops, nail salons and tattoo parlors, Mississippi’s new order does not go as far in reopening part of the state’s economy.

“Places of amusement or entertainment, like movie theaters and museums, and businesses that cannot avoid sustained person-to-person contact, like salons or gyms, will remain closed, other than curbside pick-up, drive-thru, or delivery for retail sale of their products but not services,” Reeves said in a news release.

Georgia is also allowing restaurants to reopen dining rooms on Monday, but that will not be the case in Mississippi. “Restaurants and bars may only remain open for drive-thru, curbside pick-up, and/or delivery service,” Reeves said.

“We are starting to reopen our economy,” Reeves said. “We cannot slam the door open, that would be reckless and put lives at risk. We can take measured steps to make life better for Mississippians.”

Mississippi processed nearly 165,000 claims for unemployment benefits between March 14 and the week that ended Saturday, according to figures released Thursday by the U.S. Employment and Training Administration. Nearly 36,000 of those claims were made during the most recent week of the reporting period. The U.S. overall is seeing its highest unemployment levels since the Great Depression.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the highly contagious virus can cause severe symptoms and be fatal.