April 1, 2020
Full Conference-Governor issues Stay-at-Home order
>>>i pray that all of our orders and separations will be enough.
We believe this is the right tool at the right time to save lives.
Today this is the best course of action for mississippi.
>>>a remarkable time in our history.
If we look at what's happening in mississippi right now.
Since yesterday we reported another 136 cases of covid.
Another two deaths.
Putting our total case count at over a thousand.
One of the things that's become more worrisome is we've seen an expansion in the number of cases in nursing homes.
We're seeing enough volume of cases where it's starting to infiltrate into a more vulnerable population.
If we think about what the purpose of a shelter in place order is it's to slow things down to give the system an opportunity to get extra capacity to deal with increase demand.
Part of that is the healthcare system.
We have adequate ventilators not in use in hospitals right now but we know more cases are coming.
We know we're going to have more deaths.
We are at the front of this thing but if we can use this tool to slow things down such that we can process patients through the system safely and provide every single patient the resources they need to maximize a chance for recovery that's what we're doing.
This isn't going to be a cure.
It's not going to stop the coronavirus.
What it will do is cause an additional pause.
>>>thank you doctor.
I have been in contact with speaker gun, the lieutenant governor hoseman and their leadership teams, as well as, mayors and members of board of supervisors all across the state of mississippi.
When speaking with speaker gun earlier today he offered to come and make a few comments today.
I'm honored to have him by my side.
We worked closely for eight years ensuring from a financial standpoint and otherwise, that we as a state are prepared to deal with this.
I turn it over to you.
>> thank you governor.
I am here today as a sign of support for this decision.
I will tell you what got me to this point.
I have, my number one concern this entire time is the health of our citizens.
I think that is para mounlt.
Every one of us needs to be concerned about what is the best thing for the health of our citizens.
This morning i had a conversation with two leading health professionals in the state.
Dr. woodward and dr. dobbs.
I asked them both if you did not have to have concern for political or economic or any other ramifications.
If you were just making a decision based on what is in the best health interest in the citizens of our state, with a would you do?
They both said this is it.
That was convincing to me this is the step we now need to take.
For me that is what led me to this point.
We are at a point now where we've got to do this.
We do not want to be in a situation where where we have not done everything we can do to protect our citizens.
When i asked that and they said this is it, that convinced me.
I called the governor and said look.
I'm convinced this is what we need to do.
If you need me to come and stand with you at a press conference, i will.
He invited me to come and that is why i'm here today.
We've been warned by the president.
We have been warned by others.
There are going to be deaths.
More people are going to die.
I don't want them to die because we didn't do everything we could do.
This will hopefully slow down the spread of the virus.
We do not need our healthcare system to be overwhelmed.
We have a limited number of bed and ventilators.
At this point, as i understand it, there's no one in the state who is in need of either that doesn't have it.
But if we have a tremendous outbreak it could be to that point.
I don't want it to be said that someone died because we couldn't provide them the healthcare that they needed.
I think this is the proper step to take to make sure we don't get to that point.
We can always overcome the nick stuff but we cannot overcome the loss of life.
I'm supportive of this.
At this time i'll ask the general to come up.
One of the things that we have been doing over the last three or four weeks working with director michelle, working with the team at mima and working with general and his team is we have been preparing for this crisis as the curve begins to move upward.
I want to ask the general and once he is done ask colonel michelle to come forward and talk about some of the efforts that have been ongoing to help ensure that if it becomes necessary that we do things like have additional hospital beds, et cetera, the guard is ready, willing and able to help provide that.
Our men and women in uniform every time through american history have been asked to step up.
They have done so.
I know under the leadership of general bowls.
They'll do it again and do it well.
>>>we appreciate your leadership in this special time, interesting time.
Dr. dobbs we appreciate your agencies leadership, also, as we continue to support you.
The national guard has about a hundred soldiers and airmen currently mobilized to support the state of mississippi.
We recognize the mississippi state department of health is the lead agency on this task force.
We work with our partner mima to support the department of health.
We currently are supporting in three ways.
We are providing planning and logistical support to the state for their efforts in this exercise.
We are shipping product all over the state of mississippi currently.
We are providing security support to first responders if needed.
We would never be the lead in a security situation we would always be in a support role to that local government.
Then our third is to always support our fellow agencies, currently we are prepared to assess any facilities, governor, that you may need assessed with the engineers in our formation and we're prepared to do that also.
Along those three efforts.
Logistic support, security support and partnering with our local agencies.
Governor that's all i have.
>>>thank you general.
You and your team efforts in planning and preparation for the days and weeks ahead.
Thank you, sir.
>>>at this time i ask colonel michelle, the director of the mississippi emergency management agency, the lead agency for preparation and management of the emergency itself.
Can you talk a little bit about your efforts over the last several week and what you see in the coming days and weeks ahead.
One of the things that has been one of the more challenging issues with the covid response has been, of course, getting the appropriate supplies in we need for first of all the healthcare worker, healthcare provider, healthcare facility and our tear threes first responders and emergency responders.
This is not just an issue for mississippi.
An issue thos global and nationally.
We've been working with great success and starting to get supplies in.
It's taken longer to do that.
As everyone knows we've talked with a number of healthcare facilities and hospitals about sflies and understand their concerns.
I can assure you those resources are coming in as said earlier.
We're getting notifications of supplies coming in.
One of the other things just to address the dr. dobbs mentioned earlier about the expansion of icu beds should that need arise, ventilators.
We have a team together in conjunction with the national guard.
You heard the general talk about strategic planners working with us.
We will be set to brief the governor and the general and dr. dobbs on where those expansion capabilities exist.
How we would execute that and how to resource those valuable and critical needs such as ventilators.
Thanks to our partners at mississippi state university working on converting some ventilators we had that were emergency ventilators, battery powered a-c we appreciate that.
We've had much success lately with resources and finding ventilators we anticipate receiving over the next couple of weeks to ensure we have the resources when the need, if the need arises to expand those in intensive care treatment facilities.
Other than that appreciate your leadership.
We continue to be certainly proud to be a part of this event and partner as we need sir.
Before i open the floor to answer your questions i just want to say a special thank you to a few folks.
First of all to our emergency first responders, our healthcare workers, our doctors, our nurses, and everyone in the healthcare field that are on the front lineses of this response.
I want to personally say thank you.
You are the heros in this and we appreciate you and we're going to do everything we can to ensure you have the equipment that you need to continue to provide the quality of service that you are providing.
Secondly, i can't tell you how many e-mails and text and voice mails that i have received from people around the state telling me they are praying for us.
That means a lot.
It means an awful lot.
Thank you very much.
At this time i'm going to open the floor to questions.
>>>governor, how is the shelter in place order different from what was the cautionary warning in place.
Will it change from who people r were told to do already?
>> i'm going to sign it right quick.
Minor details but important ones.
I will tell you that for the 75-90% of the people in mississippi who have been adhering to the executive order that is have been issued throughout the state by my office over the last several weeks, this executive order is not going to significantly alter or change their life.
What this particular executive order does and it is very similar to the order that was put in place yesterday for lauderdale county.
It does outline the ability for individuals to continue essential business operations.
Grocery stores are going to stay open.
Other essential operations are going to stay open.
Again, as defined by the executive order from several weeks ago, speaking from the cyber security and infrastructure committee.
Those guidelines are in place to defining essential operations.
Some of the areas in which we have decided that we are going to put in writing with the signature here in terms of prohibiting activities.
They are, of course, all public and private social and other nonessential gatherings of groups of more than ten people.
But, also, this is going to shut down all places of amusement and recreation, whether indoors r o outdoors including but not limited to amusement parks, rides, museums, playgrounds, childrens party and play tifacili wildlife fisheries and parks.
Mississippi department of marine resource and the mississippi highway patrol.
We will have each of those interconnected in to the enforcement mechanism.
Again, i want to be clear about something.
The single most important enforcement mechanism that e we can have in the state of mississippi is you.
The people of our state.
If you will self-enforce this it will go a long way towards slowing the spread.
If you will stay at home unless it is absolutely essential to do so, if you will stay at home, even if you're an essential employee unless it is going to and from work, then we will be successful in continuing to slow the spread.
>>>people might be wondering at home are they going to have to have documentation to prove they are going to work.
Grocery stores aren't closed obviously they wouldn't have anything to prove that.
What extent should they expect enforcement.
>> what i would tell you is if an individual is in their vehicle driving either to work or to the grocery store, there is very little likelihood they are going to transfer it to themselves or to anyone else.
I'll let dr. dobbs speak to that from a public health standpoint.
If we will be smart and understand that we practice social distancing that we don't get within five to six feet of other individuals no matter what we are doing, whether in public or otherwise, if we're only leaving our home to go to the grocery store or to the pharmacy or to and from work, if you are an essential employee such as a healthcare worker.
Then i think that this will be successful.
Enforcement is a challenge, always.
Enforcement is a challenge for every law we have on the books.
It is impossible for us to enforce the murder statutes that we have and unfortunately people break the law every day.
It not only puts yourself at risk but other mississippiyans at risk.
Though you may be healthy your grandmother or your mother or your grand dad or your dad may not be.
If you were to go out in public and gather with ten, fifteen or twenty people and you contract it you may take it back to your home where you may live with your grandmother and you may put her at jeopardy.
I can't stress enough the single best mechanism for enforcement is for individuals to enforce it themselves.
But we are going to step up law enforcement.
We are going to assist local officials ensuring we don't have large groups gathering on our beaches.
I don't care if large groups are from louisiana, mississippi or some other state.
We are going to ensure that does not occur effective at 5:00 p.m.
It shouldn't be occurring now.
It's already against the executive order that was issued weeks ago.
Groups of ten or more.
We can help local law enforcement agencies that need and want help.
We're not going to come in and take over anywhere.
We've got the best law enforcement officers of anywhere in the world.
We have sheriffs on the coast to all the way through north mississippi that know what they are doing.
If they need help we want to try do everything we can.
If they go through emergency managers and talk to mima to do that.
We've known for a long time this is con stay yous and spread like wild fires like in new orleans.
Did you have to overcome political ramification with perhaps economic ramifications to get to this decision?
>> to be honest with you.
If i was going to make the politically easy decision i would have entered an order such as this weeks and weeks ago.
That was the easy decision politically because there were lots of people calling on lots of different political leaders to make that decision.
For me the decision has always been data driven and based upon the advice of the experts.
Today after conversation conversation late yesterday and the data we gotten in was the first day the health experts said maybe today is the today.
I will tell you, and we had numerous conversations and i'll let dr. dobbs address this.
We had numerous conversations where there were some areas of the state it was more important that we move forward more quickly.
For instance, you look at mississippi gulf coast region, pearl river county.
Just to give you an idea.
Yesterday, yesterday in louisiana they had 1212 new cases and 54 deaths.
That's more total cases than we have in the state of mississippi from the entire event and more deaths than we currently have.
When you're looking at what's happening down in orleans parish specifically but throughout the new orleans region, that leads us to make some decisions.
We had a conversation through the night and, again, this morning about the possibility of just expanding this to a few other counties, five, six, seven, eight counties.
The question i asked was do we think within the next several days that we're going to ultimately get to the point where the recommendation will be we need to expand it much more broadly.
In talking to dr. dobbs, i'll let him address this, we felt like that probably was coming in the days ahead and, therefore, in my mind it made sense to go ahead and do the expansion statewide.
Dr. dobbs you want to talk about that.
>> thank you.
If you look at where we are in our state epidemic, you know, we're well earlier than other states were when they did shelter in place.
So, we have the benefit of seeing what happened where they were.
This is going to be disruptive.
It's going to be difficult to maintain.
The previous measures were actually helpful and certainly if people had con plied would have been even bert.
Just because we're starting to see this increase and for a targeted period of time, if we can strongly enforce this to give it a chance to make sure that we don't overburden the healthcare system.
That we can adequately resource the healthcare system.
We've heard the challenges mima faces in getting resources it's just the right time.
The populous of mississippi seems ready for it and i think now is the time it can be most successful.
Are there any expectations that the essential businesses will have to reduce the scope of their operations or do things like work from home?
>> great question.
The one thing i would say is nonessential businesses are not only expected to only operate with minimum operations they are required to operate with only minimum operations as defined in the order.
As it relates to essential businesses we continue to encourage them to exercise where possible assuming they are doing so in a way that the social distancing requirements, the other things that we have already put in place, the gatherings of not more than ten and small groups are continuing to happen both in essential and nonessential businesses.
But when it comes to places like grocery stores they have to stay open.
We have to protect them and ensure they stay open because we would, if we allowed ordnances or other things to occur that put those grocery stores in jeopardy or limited their ability to restock their shelves et cetera we would see a panic in our state.
We do not need to panic.
We need to recognize the seriousness of this situation and do the right things.
If we do that we will get through this.
>>>live, local, late breaking.
This is wtva9 news.
>>>resuming coverage now of the news conference on a statewide shelter in place order going into affect friday.
>>>for days and weeks they've been ordering new supply, basic supplies like masks and not getting them.
The director of nursing told me she's keeping an emergency stockpile in her office and that stockpile is ten.
If you can give more clarity and specifics on what it was?
>> we get a lot of calls like that and we know a lot of hospitals are operating in their emergency stash.
It's good they planned that way to have that.
We are actually probably four days later than i would have liked to have been on getting some supplies in.
A lot of what we ran into were logistical issues not necessarily getting the supplies finally once we got the pipelines but the trucking piece.
The cargo flight piece are so backed up because of the global demand on products that we've had some delays.
We had masks come in today.
We've had hand sanitizer come in today.
Two truckloads of more hand sanitizer and sanitizer for floor and facilities.
All the stuff is coming in.
The mississippi department of health has been making regular shipments although they've been smaller than they like them to be to tier one facilities.
As cases increase the tier one facilities increase and the demand is greater.
We're getting and starting to get visibility on stuff coming in.
As that stuff comes in we will push it out as quickly as we can.
>> is that coming from the federal government or is that from, explain how that works?
>> we did get the last shipment of the national stockpile that came in two days ago.
It was a small shipment but that's with a we've been getting the three shipments we received.
The majority of what we've got we anticipate coming in now are things we gone out and locally procured with state resources.
>> let me follow with that.
I've told this story before.
I want to tell it again because i want people to understand the challenges that exist in this entire country.
Frankly, across the globe.
It's easy for us because most of us we're around when hurricane katrina hit.
When hurricane katrina hit from an economic standpoint, a financial standpoint we know the damage it did to literally hundreds of thousands of lives.
From a numbers standpoint that disaster was five times larger than any natural disaster in the history of our country.
But the difference was for all intense purposes, it only affected mississippi and louisiana.
The next day and in some cases the day of hurricane katrina we had help pouring into our state from all 48 other states.
This particular event every state is dealing with it.
Therefore, not only are we competing with the federal government, we're also competing with each other and quite frankly we're competing with other countries for this critical equipment.
One of the goals of the social distancing that we've had in place a number of weeks followed by the shelter in place that we're going to implement here for the next couple of weeks is to slow the spread of the virus.
It's as to not put too much stress on our healthcare system.
That also gives us some time for manufacturers to go out and manufacture more of this ppe equipment and more of the ventilators that we need.
It also gives us time to be successful in acquiring more and more of that.
That is why i believe this is the right time to do this.
As dr. buyer said yesterday and dr. dobbs said today and repeatedly said to me.
A shelter in place for months and months on end becomes impossible to regulate and impossible to ensure compliance.
That's the reason we put a time period on this particular executive order.
It goes into affect at 5:00 p.m.
It is scheduled to conclude at 8:00 a.m.
On monday april 20th.
As the situation evolves we will make further decisions but that is the plan right now.
Slightly longer than the 14 days we believe is a realistic period but we have to make sure that our people understand that if you will comply and if you will do your part over the next two weeks we'll be able to slow this spread, have better data over the next couple of weeks and then hopefully, we can remove this as scheduled and as planned.
>>>because of the rel utively broad nature of essential businesses in the original order.
Is there any closing down that definition a little bit for the purpose of this shelter in place order?
I know, obviously, healthcare services and grocery stores would not be affected but is there any limiting that?
>> no essential businesses that were outlined in the original executiverd order was almost exclusively dependent upon the essential businesses that were outlined by the homeland security in the united states government.
Their cyber security and infrastructure task force.
It is critical that we ensure that the supply chain in america continues.
If it does not then we will not be able to receive the p-p-e that we badly need.
We will not be able to receive the things that we need to make sure our healthcare workers and others are protected.
What we did do in this executive order is we went a step further in outlining those things that are nonessential.
So that's why you see us specifically mention amusement parks and rides and museums and playgrounds.
One of the things we're hering from local elected officials is that in some communities folks are gathering up at the playground.
While person to person transmission is unlikely as long as you're six feet apart and out doors, we're seeing that that gathering in that clusters is far more than ten people or more.
That's the reason we went further in identifying what those prohibited activities are.
>>>the resident vary, two people on a boat, do they get stopped by wild and fisheries and told to go home.
Can they go to a liquor store.
Is a liquor store concerned essential.
>> liquor stores are not going to be closed.
The reservoirs are listed here as areas that are going to be closed.
The reason for that is what we saw last weekend and the weather is beautiful out.
What beautiful day it is in mississippi today.
But what we found is that not in all areas and fairly limited but there were certainly people, boats on the river last weekend and stoping on sand bars.
We flew over i.
Some of you were with me.
There were people up river that were gathered in groups much larger than ten or more.
Because of that we have to shut that down.
>> a warning first then arrested?
>> there are enforcement measures in here that would allow for them to be arrested.
I think most law enforcement officers in mississippi are probably going to take the initial step and just break them up and say you can't be here.
You don't have to go home but you can't stay here.
But the reality is that it would be just much easier and much smarter if individuals will comply and not do those things.
>>>have any inmates been tested?
>> the latest update i've sooefed.
It wasn't today.
But the latest update that i've received was that there is a mechanism in place and a policy in place where by if any inmate were to be showing symptoms that they would be sent to the infirmary.
They would first be tested for the common flu, as well as, other possibilities that could lead to these things.
Obviously, this time of year there's a lot of people that have sinusitis and things like that.
I have not been told any inmate to my knowledge that was in a prison facility had tested positive for covid 19.
So that's where we are right now.
>>>continuing with what they were talking about essential businesses.
Wal-mart will be open because of groceries.
Say clothing store or telephone store, computers may be open.
>> if you talk about clothing stores, clearly, they should be closed.
They are not listed as essential operations in the order.
There were a few, not many but a few around the state that said since they were not explicitly listed as being nonessential therefore they believe they were essential.
I don't think that is a reasonable interpretation of this order.
Clothing stores should be closed.
With respect to, you know you mention computer stores.
One of the things i will say is we do allow for data operations.
I will tell you in these times we do have a lot of kids learning from home.
We have a lot of kids that are practicing distance learning.
Some of those supplies may fit into the category of being essential, i'll have to get back with you with specifics on that.
Again, generally speaking, if you're not listed in the order as an essential business or if you have to ask yourself, hey, am i essential or not.
You're probably not essential.
>>>i have a question regarding the nursing homes.
I notice that now the department of health are listing some counties where they have been problems within the facilities.
Smith county is listed.
One of the nursing homes there said several residented tested positive but only one case is showing up for smith county.
Can you provide clarify dr. dobbs?
>> i'm not sure about that specifically.
I don't know about this one but a lot of times that would be the residents.
But sometimes there's a delay.
That probably what it is for this scenario.
But the other thing is for a lot of the counties if peoples official resident is in a neighboring county that happens a lot.
So some discrepancy comes up and gets people bent out of shape but there's always an explanation so far.
>> where do we stand on the ventilator and masks?
Are we short?
>> on the ventilator piece we have plenty for mississippi today.
It's not today we're worried about.
It's next week and the week after next.
We do a daily inventory of ventilators and know how many we have available.
We know we have an expandable access if we look at those used in operating rooms. operating rooms are pretty silent these days.
We can expand that pretty quickly but it's the next phase we're worried about.
If we can bend the curve down hard maybe we'll never need more.
We need to be prepared.
Colonel michelle has done a fanstic job tracking down stuff.
I think we're in better shape because of his work.
>>>what is it today?
>> it changes quickly.
It's not something we want to publish and also something people would freak out if they see it's gone up 10% or down 10%.
It's such a dynamic number we don't publish it.
>> can you do more roughly?
>> we are below average utilization for this time of year.
We have more ventilators and icu beds than we normally do available.
>>>how many converted units.
The msu converted some.
Do you have a number on how many?
Maybe addition gnat ones we have in circuit we wouldn't have otherwise.
>> what the mississippi department of health had was a number of emergency ventilators that were battery powered, using karina as an example individuals transported from a facility that lost power and thank transferred.
Five hundred sent to mississippi state university.
They were received yesterday.
They started reworking those converting them from battery to ac power.
That's another five hundred to help and assist as backups surge should come become necessary.
>>>let me say this also.
We met earlier today with these two gentlemen and others and are looking, also, at the procurement process at the potential of acquiring additional ventilators.
Again, for those individual states who are spiking today that is a major issue.
The more time goes by before our peak utilization occurs the more opportunity we have to continue to build on the number of ventilators that we have.
But the other thing i will tell you and this is just a fact that we're seeing in other states and that we are addressing here in term of planning phases.
You not only have to have ventilators but, again, this is beyond my scope of expertise.
But ventilators don't operate themselves.
We've got to have competent people and quality people.
We are calling on all mississippiyans who have this level of expertise you.
May be retired.
You may not be working right now.
We are working with state medical association and other groups to put together individuals that would be willing to come back to work or that may, for instance, work at an elective surgery center that is not currently open but has the capacity and the capability of working ventilators and helping in this situation.
We need all of mississippi to step up and be prepared to help us with this.
We're not going to hit our peak capacity tomorrow.
It could be next week.
It could be the week after that.
We're working very hard to make sure that in the event of a surge like we're seeing in new orleans right now that we have the ability to do that.
>>>dr. dobbs, how many coronavirus patients are on ventilators right now?
>> that's a fluid number.
It's not something we track readily.
>> we're not calling the icu every day seeing if they are off the ventilator because it changes quickly.
We track icu bed, who is in them, what their care has been.
We know about 5% of covid patients that are diagnosed end up in the icu.
If for extrapolation perspective about 75% of patients go into intensive care unit end up needing a mechanical ventilator.
>> the department of health reporting every day the number of hospital patients.
We have yo add it up ourselves in the bar graph and they are getting the number of patients every day of icu patients on the website.
Why can't we get that information.
>> we can work on that if you'd like.
>> [inaudible] correction officers tested positive?
>> not to my knowledge but we'll follow up on that.
I have not been alerted that we have.
>> are you ready to make a call yet that school here is done.
Do we start restricts day care at this snoint >> i am not ready to make a call at this point on schools.
Obviously, they are closed until what is in effect april 20th, which is the same day this order would be in affect until.
So many anticipation is as we get a week or two out and see what the curve does in mississippi and where we find ourselves we'll make those decisions in the coming days.
I just want to be clear.
There are an awful lot of mississippi student who is are learning, who are doing assignments, who are doing work.
That's one of the things that may come out of this particular event is we're learning a lot of new ways to be innovative.
I can't brag on our universities enough by the way.
Greg mentioned mississippi state working to help us on ventilators.
The university of mississippi medical center has utilized their labs to help provide additional testing and found a way to test.
Also, has done a fantastic job of helps us on zesting sites.
The university of southern mississippi bio chemistry folks and dr. bennett has been working with forest general to increase testing capabilities.
I think if you look on the department of health website, i have to give them credit for this, if you look at where all throughout mississippi there are testing capabilities going on right now.
It is pretty broad geographically.
I think that's one of the reasons we are in a better spot than many states given where we are on the curve from a testing standpoint.
We've got a lot of work to do on a lot of different things.
None of this is easy but we have made some real progress and i think that's good.
Are we going to restrict day cares?
>> i'll turn it to dr. dobbs.
>> we've had conversations about what the best practice is.
A lot of day cares have closed and restricted their practices.
But we expect to give them some clear guidance soon.
>>>talk about the federal money coming into the state and the federal legislation.
Do you control that money?
>> the answer to the last question is the bill the president signed does give control of the money to the governor.
It does say in it that you have to use that money on expenditures that were not otherwise budgeted for in the most recently passed budget.
Obviously, you get a hundred lawyers in the room and they could probably debate and argue as to exactly what that means.
But i don't think it really allows for the plugging of budget holes.
I think it allows for the expenditure of covid 19 related expenditures to ensure that we can do things.
For instance, every hospital in mississippi when this became an issue had a number of masks on hand.
Not a large enough number but a number of masks on hand.
They had a traditional supply chain in which they typically utilize to put masks in the hands of those employees.
Well, obviously, those supply chains in many instances have dried up so we as a state had to work with the federal government in some instances but also use our own resources to find more of those masks.
Those are the expenditures i would anticipate using the that money for.
Some of it may also be fema reimbursed.
The thing that i will tell you is we will not not do anything in our power to ensure that we have adequate resources for all of our healthcare workers based upon money.
We will find the resources to make every possible effort to protect our healthcare professionals and protect every possible mississippiyan.
>>>i know recently you had the talk about how you've been in conversation with vice president pence and his task force.
At that time the vice president was not recommending [inaudible] did you receive any further communication as to whether or not to shut the state down?
>> i have not asked in the last several days.
They have made a decision not to shut down from a national standpoint.
I think the reason they've made that decision is because they look and recognize that there are different parts of the country that are different parts of the cycle.
They have been very quick to give much latitude to the governors to do what they believe is the in the best interest of their citizens.
I have not been given guidance by anyone at the white house that this is the right time or not the right time.
I've been given guidance by our healthcare experts in mississippi.
Public healthcare experts like dr. dobbs and others but not anyone from the white house.
>>>i've been in constant contact with dr. woodward over the last several weeks.
Obviously, she is a very vital person in our healthcare sphere here in mississippi.
I've been fortunate to seek her guideline, as well as that of many other professionals over the last several weeks.
[inaudible] how many of our healthcare professionals have become infected thus far?
>> you know, we do have that number.
We don't post it.
We always try to put information out there that balances the needs, the general public but also that protects the anonymity of different folks.
As we have more and more people, as you noticed, we've had more information available on the website.
Expect to see that.
Testing numbers and things will be more available.
But the healthcare work force is a significant component.
One thing people aren't paying attention to and maybe we can put more to this is the number of people who are getting it from social gatherings like funerals.
That's been a big problem is social gatherings.
The healthcare is going to be impacted but, actually, more of our cases come from nonhealthcare exposures than other group activities outside of healthcare.
[inaudible] >>>i don't have that with me but we're not planning on sharing that.
>>>number one, i having watched this global pandemic unfold, i have a really difficult time believing some of the numbers that are coming out of china in terms of how many individuals are, have contracted the virus, how many deathses they've had in large part due to what's happening in virtually every other country around the world.
I want to point that out.
I don't think we can use the numbers that they are quoting to the worldwide press as necessarily as fact.
The other thing that i would say is that it's critically important that we understand that many of the clusters that we're seeing in other parts, in various parts of the state and the data is clear.
What i will tell you is that dr. dobbs and his team have done a fantastic job of implementing our strategy.
Of identifying and isolating where these cases are coming from.
Far too often the answer is a funeral, a wedding, and as we go forward let me just say.
Funerals and weddings of people of ten or more and church services of people of ten or more on sunday mornings should not be happening.
The fact of the matter is easter sunday is coming up.
Easter sunday is going to occur between now and when this stay at home order is completed.
That gives me great heartburn because so many people in society today don't go to church every sunday anymore.
Some just go on christmas and just go on easter.
So it gives me great reason for concern that easter sunday is upcoming and it is in the middle of the shelter in place order.
But for the safety of yourselves and the safety of your loved ones and for the safety of all mississippiyans, i have to ask you do not gather in groups of ten or more even if that is on easter sunday.
It is critically important that we worship, that we worship every day of the week.
That we pray every single day of the week.
But we don't need large gatherings of people in small churches.
I think that's, again, it's one of the more difficult things for me to say in this endeavor but it just from a public health standpoint is just a fact.
>> is that a suggestion or mandate?
>> that is what i'm telling the people of mississippi.
I have said repeatedly that i don't think that the government can shut down churches but i do think we can limit their ability to gather.
The executive order i signed several weeks ago makes it clear that you cannot gather in groups of ten or more for social gatherings and i think that fits that category.
>>>people reach out about garden centers and home depot and lowes.
>>>i think many of the hardware stores are considered essential under the guideline set forth in the original executive order.
One of the, it's easy for those of us in mississippi, particularly in the larger metropolitan areas to start differentiating between this store and that store and this store and that store.
But in many communities around our state you have one store that is the hardware store and the grocery store and it's everything else.
So what i will tell you is no matter that store, if it is open, it is critically important that you exercise social distancing.
Stay within six feet or do not get within six feet of the other shoppers.
That you, by the way, many of those that are open have implemented strategies where they make that a reality.
If you're in line, for instance, there will be tape, duct tape on the floors, which differentiates that six foot space.
Whether the store is open or not you should still for the good of yourself and the good of your neighbors exercise those guidelines of not clustering of staying at six feet apart.
>> also, governor, the order goes into affect friday.
People will hear things they want to hear.
How do you prevent people from hoarding supplies say it's friday.
We're about to shelter in place.
We need to go grab all the bread we can.
>> what i tell you is the same thing i've been saying throughout this situation.
The grocery stores are going to stay open.
Not only are we mandating a shelter in place we're also saying that grocery stores and those who provide food including restaurants that now can only provide curb side service or pickup, that those are essential service and they cannot be shut down by any governmental entity.
The supply chain is working.
We have actually over the last several days have been working on a number of things, such as, a number of things such as, loosening some restrictions, working with the department of transportation to make sure goods and services get to where they need to be so people can get it.
There is no reason, even with this shelter in place in order, for you to go and stock up for the next six months.
Think of your friends.
Think of your neighbors.
Go and buy groceries for a week to ten days as you normally would do and if you do that, then every mississippiyan will have the ability to get what they need to have the necessary supplies so that we can all work together get through this.
>>>some gyms have been open and some have shut down.
Should gyms by closed down or remain open?
>> under this order they shall be shut down.
The gyms will be shut down.
>> what about construction workers?
Building a house or working on a house.
>> i think what you have to find is do they fit the category of an essential service as defined under the cyber security and infrastructure task force?
I think in some instances they would be able to meet the guidelines they've set forth as essential services but that's something that has to be determined on a case by case basis.
>> governor, car sales?
>> i will tell you again the executive order we signed ten days ago outlining essential services, i didn't commit that to memory.
Let me look at it and we'll get back to you.
>> dr. dobbs this is something talked about earlier but going back to nursing homes.
Do you know how many nursing homes have outbreaks and how many residents are infected.
>> can you release those numbers?
>> we are releasing the number of counties with it.
As we get more information, you know, again, it's a delicate balance between anonymity and public information.
As more numbers accumulate we can safely release information.
There will be more information coming out.
>>>following up on the nursing home.
People can't check on loved ones in nursing homes.
Who is responsible for doing that and are they doing inspections?
Some nursing homes, let's be honest, they don't have a great record of taking care of their patients.
What are you doing about that to increase inspections so people aren't worrying?
>> our inspectors are still working.
We are not increasing the frequency.
Mostly doing complaints.
I understand that's an issue but we are in regular communication, not only with the nursing homes but the associations that oversee the homes.
We are certainly in a lot now because of the outbreaks we're having so they are getting scrutiny when those occur.
But we're not increasing routine inspections for the obvious reason.
We don't want different people coming in and out of there.
We want the stable population as much as we can without bringing in potential infection.
I understand what a challenge that is.
>>>going back to healthcare and ppe.
Can you talk about healthcare workers that have been infected but there have been no healthcare workers that have had to work in the state or emergency responders without proper equipment and would they be expected to make that without the proper equipment?
>> right now by and large people have what they need.
For covid patients especially.
If we have folks who have coronavirus we have ensured they have some minimal allotment of protective equipment.
There will be scenarios people encounter people they don't know they have coe vid.
We have precautions about that.
But we can't have everybody walking about in full ppe all the time.
We might could do it if we had it.
The other thing we've done is we have identified the location of people with coronavirus and shared it with local 911 centers such if there's an emergency call that there is a drop down list where people can know they might be at risk so we can max mali protect our emergency responders.
>> let me also remind everyone.
I think this is important.
Data still is critically important.
Data gathering is still very important.
The bill that passed the u.s. congress was signed by president trump on friday evening requires that we report data to the cdc.
We are beginning to accumulate the data from all of the private labs, which is going to help us in terms of having more complete data.
We've always had the number of positive cases they have tested in mississippi.
Now we're in the process of getting and downloading and it takes time and the department of health is working hard.
Also, those cases that were proven to be negative.
But we are still implementing our identify and isolate strategy.
We talked with dr. dobbs today and he's got nine different field teams that are working every single day on case management.
Again, if you think you have the the virus, if you tested positive or even if you tested and don't have a result yet, it is critically important that you isolate yourself.
Quite honestly, if you will take it upon yourself to figure out who you've been in contact with the last five days you ought to send them a text and say i'm not feeling well.
You ought to stay at home.
Ultimately, this is what we talked about yesterday in lauderdale county and now building out resources to do it statewide.
We are going to do everything we can to enter legal orders to make sure that we mandate those individuals are in isolation or in quarantine.
Those individuals and this is in the order, as well, those are individuals that will not be allowed to move freely.
If they are known positive case they need to isolate and they need to be away from everyone.
>>>what are you doing to protect the homeless?
Are there special considerations for those folks?
>> that is something we are working on.
I've heard of at least one case in one community of a homeless person that contracted covid 19.
Again, this is all anecdotal.
I don't have the data and can't tell you exactly where it was.
I will tell you we have exceptionally kind and generous healthcare workers throughout that particular patient was treated.
They were working to find that particularly patient a place to to go.
Again, look, the reality is in many instances this feels like the worst of times in our state.
But what we know as mississippiyans is in the worst of times the best of people come out.
We are seeing that every single day in every single community, in every single county across our state.
>>>governor, is tli any rent or mortgage freeze?
>> there is an eviction freeze that is in this executive order.
It is in the one issued yesterday and the statewide order.
There has been no conversation about a rent freeze or anything along those lines.
I would not anticipate there will be.
What you find is that with the bill that passed the u.s. congress on friday and signed by the president friday night, there are significant provisions for those who lose their job because of covid 19.
There is significant additional unemployment insurance that is funded and everyone will ultimately be expected to pay their rent and what they owe overtime.
There are tremendous resources to help them do that.
>>>if someone, i believe this is with the cares act.
If someone quits their job specifically because of covid 19 they are eligible for unemployment?
>> i think that'll be a question we'll have to ask jackie turner and the mississippi department of employment security.
State law to apply, to receive benefits of unemployment insurance it is state law is that you lose your job at no fault of your own.
I think there's some conversations there.
That may or may not apply in the cares act.
Those are things the lawyers are looking at as we speak.
Hopefully some time soon we'll have a sit down with the department of employment security personnel and have a frank conversation where it's so more and more people can get that information.
It's be upcoming.
>>>we talk about homelessness.
Often people find themselves living in a motel for a week.
With the eviction, the whole noneviction does that apply to extended stay hotels or maybe a hotel where you live there for a week?
>> it says residential prem sis during the shelter in place.
That specific example we'll have to look at it and see and talk to lawyers and get you an answer.
>>>to follow up on unemployment.
We still have viewers call us and e-mail us about whether or not they are going to receive benefits.
And two they are still having a hard time getting in to apply.
What is your response to those mississippiyans?
>> i'm concerned about that also.
The individuals who are complaining about that and are concerned about that are justified in doing so.
Our total unemployment claims were up 5500% week over week.
We had literally, i believe, less than a thousand claims two weeks ago and also six thousand claims last week.
This is something that is not unique to mississippi.
Our total increase in claims is up by half of what the national average was.
So every state is having the same problems. here's what i say to those of you who are trying to apply.
Number one, when this started our call center was open from 8 to 5, five days a week.
The call center is now open from 7 to 10, 7:00 a.m.
To 10:00 p.m.
7 days a week.
Every day we are training more people to get on those calls.
We have loosened the restrictions and now you can go through the local job centers to apply for unemployment insurance.
We haven't allowed that in the past.
Those are actually closed to the public.
But you can go on their website, send an e-mail and get individuals to help you file those claims. but the most important thing i can tell you is we have waived the one week restriction, historically you've had to wait one week before you could apply for unemployment insurance after losing your job.
We have waived that.
The federal government to their credit funded it in the cares act.
They funded it after we waived it but they did fund it so that's not going to hurt our trust fund.
The other thing is you are going to be eligible for benefits based upon when your termination date was not based upon when someone answers the phone at the department of employment secure.
In addition you're eligible for all benefits you're eligible for based upon that particular date.
An example, the unemployment benefits are increased for those who lose their job for covid 19 over a period of time.
It's going to take the department of employment security ten days to a couple of weeks to actually redo their computer model so those benefits can be paid.
But everybody is going to get paid back to the date which they became eligible not the date they file it.
Those are great questions.
Fair questions and ones that we are trying to get that information out.
>>>dr. dobbs, as of last week we were still looking at the [inaudible] how has the strategy changed?
>> this is part of the strategy, this is just timing.
We've talked about target interventions.
The epi response teams have been activated and they are out in field working today.
The timing is perfect.
For implementing the slow down sort of thing.
This is just a more aggressive defense.
While we're continuing to implement and ramp up offensive strategy.
>> i think that's a great point.
Our strategy has not changed with implementing and instituting this shelter at home for the next 14 plus days.
Our strategy is the same.
We want to go on offense.
We have sent out nine different teams that are capable and kofrm tent that are identifying and isolating those cases.
We are continuing to send mobile testing units.
We were in meridian today doing possibly testing.
We are going to identify those positive and by we, i mean primarily the assets of department of health supported by mima and the guard.
They are going to continue to do the mobile testing units so we get to every region of our state.
We continue to believe the more tests we do the more likely our offensive strategy is going to work.
We also know the more tests we do per capita the more positive cases we're going to get.
No one is least bit surprised we're see moring cases every day.
But that doesn't mean we continue continue to focus on the offensive.
We're on the offensive trying to gather supplies.
We're on the offensive trying to identify and isolate positive cases.
Honestly, i think where we find ourselves today is in a point where we are making progress on slowing down the spread of the virus.
This is just another defensive mechanism that allows us to hopefully, get more people to comply so that we get a stronger compliance from people throughout the state.
>>>what is the follow through like with the teams and the investigation?
Obviously that front end part is so important.
But what is the follow through like once someone tests positive do we anticipate numbers at some point released about how many recovered or is there a team checking back after certain number of days or is that only in the top?
>> the state is a hot spot essentially.
We'll be doing it everywhere.
The first phase, this is labor intensive.
With this many cases and new cases coming on.
The first priority is to identify, do contact investigation, legal binding isolation order, legally binding quarantine order and then layer on top over supportive mechanisms. >>>follow up.
In the original executive order it lists automotive sales.
We receive from reports from readers they are required to come and work.
Is that intended?
>> i'll have to look at that.
I don't know the details.
I'll look at that and get back to you.
No other questions.
I do want to point out today is census day in mississippi.
It is very important that as many people as possible get counted.
We literally undercounted in the most recent census we think by a couple hundred thousand people.
You can go online and ensure you are counted.
I encourage you to do so.
Then i would finally like to say thank you to all of you members of the media who are working and doing your level best to get accurate information out to the people of our state.
You play a vital role and i certainly appreciate what you are doing in helping us get good information because when information is relaid that is not accurate.
You probably have heard more than i have but the rumor that is are out there that are beyond pael of my understanding.
Someone i saw yesterday said we are not going to issue any major announcement or major news by way of a meme on social media.
Please understand that as we progress forward we're going to do more of these briefings.
We think it's important to get good information to you and to all of the people of mississippi i urge you to comply.
I urge you to understand that working together we will get through
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