Mississippi on Friday announced an order mandating that all state residents who test positive for the coronavirus quarantine for 10 days.
The order, issued by State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Hobbs, says all Mississippians regardless of vaccination status must immediately home-isolate on first knowledge of infection with COVID-19.
Hobbs’ directive comes as Mississippi continues to experience surges in positive COVID-19 cases.
With just 36.6% of residents fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, Mississippi has the second-lowest vaccination rate in the country. The only one with a lower vaccination rate is Alabama, with 36.1%, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The new order says individuals who test positive for COVID-19 must remain at home until they’re fever free for at least 24 hours and demonstrate improvement of other symptoms. But a negative COVID-19 test is not required to end isolation after 10 days are up.
People who isolate at home should avoid contact with other housemates, including family members. There should be no visitors, the order says, and those individuals who have tested positive should wear a face mask if there’s no way to avoid being around others.
Those who are caught flouting the order will be fined $500 and might face imprisonment for six months.
The situation in Mississippi is dire. The Delta variant has been spreading quickly across Mississippi. And an eighth-grade girl died from COVID-19 after attending school where masks initially weren’t required.
We are clearly at the worst part of the pandemic that we’ve seen throughout, and it’s continued to worsen, Dobbs said at a news briefing earlier this week. We’re seeing higher and higher numbers of not just cases but hospitalizations, people in intensive care units, life support. And sadly, as we’ve seen, additional deaths are going to follow. Without a doubt we have surpassed our previous peaks by a substantial margin, and we expect to see that continue.