Test Positive for COVID-19 in Mississippi and Fail to Isolate? You Could Face Jail-time

If you fail to isolate after testing positive for COVID-19 in the state of Mississippi, watch out because you could be facing fines and even jail time. The state health officer for Mississippi gave a COVID-19 isolation order over the weekend threatening people who refuse to follow the order of self-isolation with the repercussions.

Thomas Dobbs, the Mississippi State Health Officer, declared that people have to isolate themselves at home once they become aware that they are infected. They are expected to stay at home for 10 days after becoming ill or testing positive for COVID-19. And this is regardless of whether or not they are fully vaccinated.

The order said, “A negative test for COVID-19 is not required to end isolation at the end of 10 days, but you must be fever-free for at least 24 hours with improvement of other symptoms.”

Dobbs said that those “infected with COVID-19 must remain in the home or other appropriate residential location for 10 days from onset of illness.”

And he added, “Please stay in a specific room away from others in your home. Use a separate bathroom if available. If you need to be around others in your home, you should wear a face mask.”

If people do not comply with the State Health Officer’s order, they face fines or incarceration. The fine could be $500, and up to six months in jail. But if the disease is life-threatening, the fine for refusing to obey the order could be up to $5,000 and five years of jail.

“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 (41-3-59) 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 (41- 23-2),” Dobbs wrote.

The state of Mississippi has started to experience its third, and highest peak of COVID-19 cases. There were 5,048 new cases on Thursday of last week which is the most it has recorded since the beginning of the pandemic. This is according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It was just back in June that cases in Mississippi were reported in the low double digits in comparison to the present peak of cases. The state has a relatively low vaccination rate, with only 37 percent of the population who are fully vaccinated, according to data released from John Hopkins University. For reference, at least 72.9% of adults in the U.S. have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 62.3% are fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There were 20,000 students in Mississippi who were quarantined after the first week of school in a struggle to contain the virus, according to NBC News.

The University of Mississippi Medical Center, which is the state’s only Level 1 trauma center, also announced on Friday that it would require all staff and students to be vaccinated. This is a reversal from its previous policy that allowed employees and students to choose not to be vaccinated so long as they wore N95 masks.

Dr. Alan Jones, University of Mississippi Medical Center’s associate vice chancellor for clinical affairs, wrote this announcement: “COVID-19 in Mississippi is a raging wildfire but not everyone is helping throw water on the flames in their own backyard.”

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