The Mississippi Department of Health issued a warning this Friday to citizens who’ve contracted COVID-19, telling that they must either quarantine at home for at least 10 days or face up to 5-years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000, Fox News reports.
The order comes after the virus has surged in the state, bringing the 7-day average for new cases to 4,316 on Friday, doubling the highest level since the second surge in January. The order, issued by State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs, says that anyone “infected with COVID-19 must remain in the home or other appropriate residential location for 10 days from onset of illness.”
“The failure or refusal to obey the lawful order of a health officer is, at a minimum, a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $500.00 … or imprisonment for six months or both. If a [life threatening] disease is involved, failure or refusal to obey the lawful order of a health officer is a felony, punishable by a fine of up to $5,000.00 or imprisonment for up to five years or both, Dr. Dobbs’ order read.
There are more COVID patients in Mississippi hospitals than at any time during the pandemic. According to state health data, there’s currently 1,660 patients hospitalized, 457 in the ICU, and 324 on ventilators as of Wednesday.
“COVID-19 in Mississippi is a raging wildfire but not everyone is helping throw water on the flames in their own backyard,” Dr. Alan Jones, University of Mississippi Medical Center’s associate vice chancellor for clinical affairs, wrote in a letter Friday to staff and students. “We – as an institution and as the workforce for the state’s leading health system – need to be a leader in this fight.”