COVID-19 Guidance and Preventive Steps for Individuals and the Community

Updated March 24, 2020
This page has been automatically translated from English. MSDH has not reviewed this translation and is not responsible for any inaccuracies.

Individuals, communities and organizations are essential to controlling the spread of COVID-19 in Mississippi. The precautions and guidances here can keep you and the state safer and healthier.


Mississippi Coronavirus Hotline (available 24/7): 877-978-6453

Note: Testing for COVID-19 is not performed at county health departments. Please contact your physician or a healthcare provider.

General Information

COVID-19 is a new respiratory virus first identified in Wuhan, China that causes flu-like illness ranging from mild to severe, with symptoms of fever, coughing, fatigue and difficulty breathing. Like the flu, COVID-19 is thought to spread person-to-person by close contact (within 6 feet) and by coughing or sneezing. Other possible routes of transmission may include touching surfaces contaminated by the virus.

Local Testing Providers

Local healthcare providers are now providing sampling and test services at locations across the state for those with COVID-19 symptoms.

Prevention and Preparedness

For Individuals

Protect others:

  • Stay home if you are sick, and avoid close contact with anyone who is ill.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes. When possible, cough, sneeze or blow your nose into a tissue, and throw the tissue away.
  • If you are sick, especially with shortness of breath, severe cough, fever or severe chest pain, call a doctor or healthcare provider for instructions on being safely examined.

Protect yourself away from home

  • Avoid social and community gatherings where 10 people or more would come into close contact.
  • Practice social distancing advice below when your are in a group of people.
  • Avoid unnecessary (non-urgent) air, bus or train travel.
  • Limit visitation to older relatives or friends (especially in nursing or care homes).

Practice protective hygiene

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly, especially after coughing or sneezing, blowing your nose, and using the bathroom. Effective handwashing takes about 20 seconds, and includes cleaning under fingernails, between fingers, and washing the back of hands as well as the front. More proper handwashing tips »
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that are touched often.
  • Stay in good overall health by eating right and staying active. If you are living with diabetes, heart disease or other condition, keep in touch with your doctor and stay current with your treatment.
  • During or before flu season, get a flu shot. Flu vaccination can prevent the flu or make it less severe, and decrease your chance of hospitalization and death. It also keeps you healthier and better able to fight off infections.

Families, Women and Children

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offer specialized recommendations for:

For Older Adults and People at High Risk

People at risk for serious illness from COVID-19 are adults 65 and over and those with a chronic illness such as heart disease, diabetes, or lung disease. These people should take simple precautions at all times to limit their exposure to others who may be ill:

  • Avoid all social gatherings.
  • Keep more space (6 feet if possible) between you and others as you go through the day.
  • Avoid crowds. When you do go out in public, keep away from others who are sick and limit close contact.
  • Wash your hands often, especially after being in public places.

If COVID-19 begins to spread locally, you should stay home as much as possible. Having a supply of important medications and basic supplies can help.

For Long-Term Care Facilities

  • MSDH recommends discontinuing group social activities.
  • Consider restricting visitation until further notice.
  • Post signs that discourage all nonessential visitation and discourage ill visitors from entering the facility.
  • Visitors should only visit their family members and should not have contact with other residents since they could spread the virus.
  • Visitors should cover their coughs and be educated on the importance of hand hygiene.
  • Keep all ill visitors away from the facility for at least 48 hours after symptoms resolve.
  • Consider limiting visitation by children (especially during community wide outbreaks) and the elderly or those with underlying medical problems that place them at risk.
  • Postpone all groups (like school groups or church groups) from visiting facility — this goes along with discontinuing all group activities.
  • Make sure the facility has plenty of hand washing products and that visitors have access to them.

Social Gatherings and Events

Everyone attending essential events and gatherings should take extra precautions at this time, including:

  • Maintain social distancing as much as practical. A separation of 6 feet from another person is considered effective for infection control.
  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly soap and water, or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available. Look for sanitizers with at least 60 percent alcohol..
  • If ill, do not attend any public event and call your physician or healthcare provider if needed.
  • Schools throughout the state should consider cancelling any large gatherings, including assembly and social events.

Event organizers: MSDH recommends that communities and organizations contact us at 877-978-6453 to determine whether cancelation is warranted, or appropriate preventive steps for your event.

In the Community

Schools, businesses, events and other places that people gather should take steps to prevent or limit the spread of viral illness.


The Mississippi Department of Education has issued COVID-19 guidelines for Mississippi schools:

Child care facilities

Unlike older adults, young children are at low risk from COVID-19. The Mississippi State Department of Health has not recommended closing child care facilities at this time.

Child care faculties choosing to remain open should be mindful of hygiene and disinfection practices specific to schools and daycares:

Businesses and workplaces

Workplaces where more than 10 people work in close contact should be mindful of providing strong hygiene support and facilitating social distancing for the safety of its employees and patrons should they choose to remain open.

The Mississippi State Department of Health now recommends that all restaurants and bars suspend dine-in service for the foreseeable future and restrict their operations to carryout or delivery only.

Other community guidance

The CDC offers preparation and prevention guidance for:

The CDC has guidance for cleaning rooms and buildings visited by those who have a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19.

Information for Travelers

Travelers Overseas: The CDC has issued Travel Warnings recommending the postponement or avoidance to countries where COVID-19 is being actively transmitted. The U.S. Department of State has also issued a Level 4: Do Not Travel advisory to China.

Travelers returning to the U.S.: Steps to protect health are being taken nationally for travelers returning from parts of the world affected by COVID-19, including health screenings on entry into the U.S..

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Last reviewed on Mar 20, 2020
Mississippi State Department of Health 570 East Woodrow Wilson Dr Jackson, MS 39216 866-HLTHY4U Contact and information

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