Editor’s Note: We are sharing this abbreviated version of the COVID-19 newsletter to provide an update on recent developments relevant for the university community.
Updated quarantine guidance from MSDH
The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) released new guidance earlier this week for options for reduced quarantine period for contacts to COVID-19-infected persons. This new guidance is in alignment with the CDC and shortens the 14-day quarantine period after exposure to a COVID-19 infected individual, based on symptom and/or testing strategies.
MSDH continues to strongly encourage a 14-day quarantine period for individuals who are exposed to a person infected with SARS- CoV-2 (COVID-19), especially household contacts and those in congregate settings. With an understanding of the need to provide alternatives to shorten the quarantine period under certain circumstances, MSDH is modifying the current quarantine recommendations to include the following alternatives.
Acceptable options for reduced quarantine period:
- Quarantine can end after Day 10 without testing and if no symptoms have been reported during daily monitoring, OR,
- If testing is available, quarantine can end after Day 7 if an RT-PCR diagnostic specimen is negative and if no symptoms were reported during daily monitoring. The specimen may be collected and tested within 48 hours before the time of planned quarantine discontinuation, but quarantine cannot be discontinued earlier than after Day 7.
Persons can discontinue quarantine at these times only if the following criteria are also met:
- No symptoms of COVID-19 have been identified during the entirety of quarantine up to the time at which quarantine is discontinued.
- Daily symptom monitoring continues through quarantine Day 14.
- Individuals continue to adhere strictly to mask use and physical distancing through quarantine Day 14.
- If any symptoms develop, they should immediately self-isolate and receive testing for COVID-19.
- A negative test collected prior to 5-7 days should not be used to determine modification of quarantine.
Essential employees may be allowed to work while under quarantine as outlined previously, but should adhere to the following for a full 14-day quarantine period:
- Remain asymptomatic.
- Daily monitoring of temperature and symptoms.
- Always wear a mask while at work.
- Essential employees who continue to work should self-quarantine at home at all other times during their quarantine period based on the above options.
Two New Executive Orders from Gov. Tate Reeves
Gov. Tate Reeves issued two new Executive Orders (1535 and 1536) that will go into effect on Friday, Dec. 11 at 5 p.m. These EO’s replace previous executive orders. Below are highlights from these executive orders, but please visit the links provided to obtain details included in each order.
EO 1535: Statewide updated Safe Recovery Order (EO 1525 repealed)
- In effect until Jan. 15, 2021
- Group Gatherings (Social Distancing Not Possible): Public and private social gatherings and recreational activities shall be limited to groups of no more than ten (10) people in a single indoor space or groups of no more than fifty (50) people in an outdoor space where individuals not in the same household are in close proximity (less than six feet) to each other. This limitation does not apply to religious entities, voting precincts, students in classrooms or gatherings in facilities or venues governed by other capacity limitations.
- Face Coverings: Every person in Mississippi shall wear a face covering, covering the nose and mouth, while inside a school building or classroom, or when outdoors on a school campus whenever it is not possible to maintain a minimum of six feet of social distancing from another person not in the same household.
- Exceptions listed in the EO
- Other items included in the EO:
- Business operations
- Restaurants and bars
- Reception halls and conference centers
- Auditoriums and movie theaters
- Close contact and personal care services
- Outdoor sports complexes and multi-field complexes
- Outdoor arenas
- Indoor arenas
- K-12 organized extracurricular events
- College and university outdoor stadiums
- Hospital capacity
EO 1536: County specific tougher restrictions (EO 1527 repealed, Lafayette still included)
- In effect until Jan. 15, 2021
- Face Coverings: Every person shall wear a face covering, covering the nose and mouth, when inside a business, school, building or other indoor space open to the public whenever it is not possible to maintain a minimum of six feet of social distancing from another person not in the same household.
- Exceptions listed in the EO
Free testing from MSDH continues for university employees and students
MSDH offers free universal testing in every county for university students, faculty and staff. This offer includes symptomatic and asymptomatic testing. You can be tested at any county health department testing locations listed on this page, or daily at the free testing site in Jackson.
Appointments in and around the UM community are now available on the days and locations listed below:
- DeSoto Co. Health Department: Dec. 11 and 14-18
- Lafayette Co. Health Department: Dec. 14 and 16
- Lee Co. Health Department: Dec. 11, 14, 16, and 18
- Grenada Co. Health Department: Dec. 11 and 16
- Marshall Co. Health Department: Dec. 16-17
- Panola Co. Health Department: Dec. 17
- Pontotoc Co. Health Department: Dec. 15
- Union Co. Health Department: Dec. 11 and 16
- Yalobusha Co. Health Department: Dec. 17
You must make an appointment before you visit by filling out an online questionnaire. You will receive an appointment regardless of whether you have COVID-19 symptoms or have been in contact with someone who is infected. If you are asymptomatic when completing the questionnaire, be sure to provide answers through the fourth question, which asks, “Are you a student, faculty, or staff member of a Mississippi college or university?” When you respond “yes,” you will have options to choose a location and select a date and time.
Corrected link for MSDH Health Alert for avoiding social or public gatherings
In the Dec. 2 issue of the COVID-19 newsletter, we included information about a Health Alert from MSDH urging all Mississippi residents to avoid any social or public gathering with anyone outside of their nuclear family or household. The link to the full Health Alert for the specific details was incorrect, so we wanted to share the correct link: