Coronavirus: Mississippi health officer issues stay-at-home order for COVID-19 patients

Coronavirus: Mississippi health officer issues stay-at-home order for patients

JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi’s top health official ordered all people who test positive for the coronavirus to isolate themselves or face fines.

State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs announced the new statewide order Tuesday afternoon, the Clarion Ledger reported.

“We have a lot of COVID activity throughout the state right now, so it is absolutely critical that anyone infected with COVID-19, and not hospitalized, must remain in the home or other appropriate residential location for 14 days from onset of illness,” Dobbs said in a news release.

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Dobbs said anyone who is not hospitalized and tests positive for the virus "must immediately isolate at home."

People who fail or refuse the order will be charged with a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $500, a six-month jail sentence, or both, WLOX reported. If a life-threatening disease is involved, it becomes a felony punishable by a $5,000 fine, a five-year jail term, or both, according to the television station.

Dobbs said the health department is prepared to enforce the order, the Clarion Ledger reported. He said department officials will petition local courts to get local law enforcement agencies involved if needed, the newspaper reported.