Michael Watson

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COVID-19 Tips, Resources and Relief Efforts

Thursday, May 28, 2020


Safe Return Order

Governor Reeves plans to replace his Safer At Home executive order with a Safe Return order aimed to guide Mississippi into the next stage of economic recovery. Executive Order 1492 details updated social distancing guidelines for Mississippians, businesses, healthcare professionals, and indoor and outdoor recreation. Some of the strict social distancing guidelines in the Safe Return order include the following:

  • All those in the vulnerable population are strongly encouraged to continue sheltering in place to protect their health.
    • This includes all elderly individuals (age 65 or older per CDC guidelines) and individuals with serious underlying health conditions, including high blood pressure, chronic lung disease, diabetes, obesity, asthma, and those whose immune systems are compromised as such by chemotherapy for cancer or any other condition requiring such therapy.
  • For large group gatherings when social distancing is not possible, groups are limited to 20 people or less indoors and 50 people or less outdoors.
  • For large groups gatherings when social distancing is possible, groups are limited to 50 people or less indoors and 100 people or less outdoors.
  • All travel may resume, while minimizing non-essential business travel when possible.

The Safe Return order takes effect on Monday, June 1 at 8:00 AM as the previous order ends and will remain in effect until Monday, June 15 at 8:00 AM.

Click here to view the text version of the Safe Return order.


Unemployment Scams

Reports of unemployment fraud continue to rise as scammers look for ways to cash in during the ongoing pandemic. The Mississippi Department of Employment Security urges Mississippians to remember the following when filing for unemployment insurance benefits:

  • No Fee – There is no fee to file for unemployment compensation. MDES will never ask for a debit card or other method of payment in order to process a claim. If you receive a phone call from someone identifying them self as a representative of Mississippi Department of Employment Security or MDES, do not send money.
  • False Websites – Several websites advertise they can assist claimants in filing for unemployment benefits. Some of these sites offer services free of charge and others charge for services. These sites often ask for confidential/private information, such as your Social Security number, address, work history, and email address. Use only the official MDES website to file for unemployment benefits. MDES does not work with, nor endorse any private service claiming to assist applicants in applying for unemployment insurance benefits.
  • Personal Documents – Some solicitors will ask claimants to upload a copy of their driver’s license, birth certificate, etc. MDES will only notify you through agency-issued correspondence to ask for your documentation to be uploaded within your secure MDES account.

Click here for more information about unemployment scams.


Physical and Economic Injury Disaster Loans

The U.S. Small Business Administration is now offering assistance to residents and businesses of Marion County who were affected by severe weather on April 19, 2020. Businesses and residents of Marion County can now apply for low-interest disaster loans from the SBA, which includes both Physical and Economic Injury Disaster Loans.

Additionally, residents and businesses in contiguous counties are eligible to apply for SBA Physical and Economic Injury Disaster Loans. The contiguous counties include: Walthall, Lawrence, Jefferson Davis, Lamar and Pearl River.

Businesses and private non-profit organizations may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace disaster damaged real estate, equipment or other assets. Homeowners may borrow up to $200,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate and they are also eligible to borrow up to $40,000 to replace or repair personal property.

Click here to apply.


MDAC Modifies Cost-Share Program to Assist Farmers During Pandemic

The Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce is adjusting the Good Agriculture Practices (GAP) and Good Handline Practices (GHP) certification cost-share program by increasing allowable reimbursement in an effort to aid farmers who have been impacted by COVID-19. This cost-share program will reimburse farmers that have successfully passed certification for 75 percent of the cost up to a maximum of $750 per year, instead of the previous limit of $500 per year.

GAP/GHP audits are voluntary independent audits of produce suppliers throughout the production and supply chain. GAP/GHP audits focus on best agricultural practices to verify that fruits and vegetables are produced, packed, handled and stored in the safest manner possible to minimize risks of microbial food safety hazards. Audits must be completed by an approved USDA certifier and reimbursement is for the initial audit only. Farmers can then submit the combined amount of the actual audit and the USDA service charge.

To qualify, applicants must be a Mississippi producer and the farm must be located within the state of Mississippi. Only audits for specialty crops are eligible for reimbursement. Specialty crops are defined as fruit, vegetable, tree nuts, and horticulture and floriculture items.

Click here to learn more about the cost-share program.

Executive Orders

Executive Order 1492 Executive Order 1492 (Safe Return) details updated social distancing guidelines for Mississippians, businesses, healthcare professionals, and indoor and outdoor recreation.
Executive Order 1491 Executive Order 1491 allows ballparks, movie theaters, libraries and museums to reopen under strict social distancing guidelines.
Executive Order 1490 Executive Order 1490 issues a Proclamation ordering the flag of the United States of America to be flown at half-staff on all public building and grounds until noon on May 25, 2020, in honor of our fallen service members
Executive Order 1489 Executive Order 1489 issues a Proclamation ordering the flag of the United States of America to be flown at half-staff upon all public buildings and grounds until sunset, May 24, 2020, for the victims of the coronavirus pandemic.

Click here to view all Executive Orders.

Emergency Contact Information


Office of the Governor of Mississippi
Tate Reeves
(601) 359-3150
Mississippi State Department of Health (877) 978-6453

Mississippi Emergency
Management Agency
(601) 933-6362
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (800) 232-4636
Mississippi Department of Employment Security (601) 855-3133

1-888-844-3577 (toll-free)

1-888-772-0061 (toll-free)


Michael Watson

MageeNews.com is an online news website covering Simpson and surrounding counties as well as the State of Mississippi.


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