COVID-19 Guidance and Prevention for Individuals and the Community

Updated December 22, 2020
This page has been automatically translated from English. MSDH has not reviewed this translation and is not responsible for any inaccuracies.

Mississippi Coronavirus Hotline (7 days a week, 7 a.m.–7 p.m.): 877-978-6453

Preventing COVID-19: Recommendations and Requirements

Home isolation is mandatory if you have tested positive for COVID-19 by order of the State Health Officer. (If you are awaiting results of routine testing not related to exposure, you may return to work and follow the safety guidance of your employer.)

Quarantine is mandatory if you have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19
Read more »


Businesses and Community

State and Civil

Gatherings and Events

Governor's Executive Orders

Prevention for Individuals

Practice Social Distancing

The more you are apart from others, the more you are protected from COVID-19 transmission. The virus spreads easily between those eating together, talking together, or attending events.

  • Avoid non-essential trips outside your home.
  • If you are 65 or older, or in poor health, avoiding exposure to others is especially important (see precautions below).
  • Keep at least 6 feet apart from others when you are outside your home.
  • Avoid crowds, social gatherings and community events. Don't gather with those outside your household members. If you eat out or visit stores, restaurants or bars, keep your trips short and wear a cloth face covering.
  • Gathering outdoors is safer than gathering indoors. Masks and social distancing are still needed outdoors.
  • Follow restrictions on indoor and outdoor gathering sizes.

Wear a Mask or Face Covering

Combined with social distancing, face coverings are highly effective at preventing COVID-19 transmission to others and to yourself. Face covering is especially important when a distance of at least 6 feet cannot easily be maintained between persons.

  • Wear a mask or cloth face covering whenever you are around others who do not live with you.
  • Wear a non medical-grade cloth mask, either manufactured or one you make yourself, when shopping, running errands, or otherwise away from home. Reserve medical-grade masks (surgical or N-95 masks) for use by healthcare workers and first responders.
  • A face shield is not an effective substitute for a mask.

Masks required in schools statewide: The Governor has ordered masks to be worn outdoors on school grounds and inside school buildings statewide at all times until January 15, 2021. See the Governor's executive order 1535 for details.

Masks required indoors for selected counties: The Governor has ordered masks to be worn indoors in all businesses and places open to the public until January 15, 2021 for residents of the following counties: Adams, Alcorn, Amite, Attala, Bolivar, Calhoun, Carroll, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Clarke, Clay, Coahoma, Copiah, Covington, De Soto, Forrest, Franklin, Grenada, Harrison, Hinds, Holmes, Itawamba, Jackson, Jefferson, Jefferson Davis, Jones, Kemper, Lafayette, Lamar, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Lee, Leflore, Lincoln, Lowndes, Madison, Marion, Marshall, Monroe, Montgomery, Neshoba, Noxubee, Oktibbeha, Panola, Pearl River, Perry, Pontotoc, Prentiss, Rankin, Scott, Simpson, Stone, Tate, Tippah, Tishomingo, Union, Washington, Webster, Winston, Yalobusha and Yazoo. See the Governor's executive order 1536 for details.

Practice Protective Hygiene

  • Cover your coughs and sneezes. When possible, cough, sneeze or blow your nose into a tissue, then throw the tissue away.
  • 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 at least 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 medical condition, keep in touch with your doctor and stay current with your treatment.

Be Tested If You Are Sick or May Have Been Exposed

Free COVID-19 testing and testing from local healthcare providers is now widely available.

  • If you are sick, especially with shortness of breath, severe cough, fever or severe chest pain, stay home, call a doctor or healthcare provider for instructions on how to visit them safely.
  • If you have symptoms of COVID-19, even mild ones, or you think you may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, make an appointment for local or free testing.
  • If you have been tested for COVID-19, stay home and away from others until you get your test result. Learn more »

Families, Women and Children

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

Older Adults and People at High Risk

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

  • Stay home as much as possible.
  • Limit your contact with others when you are away from home, especially in indoor settings.
  • Limit your contact with visitors and with other members of your household who are frequently in public places.
  • Keep more space (6 feet if possible) between you and others as you go through the day.
  • If you do go out in public, keep away from others who are sick, and practice consistent social distancing. Pay closer attention to hygiene and cleanliness.
  • Wash your hands often, especially after being in public places.

Prevention in the Community

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

Social Gatherings and Events

MSDH urgently recommends that all residents of Mississippi avoid any social gathering that includes individuals outside of the immediate family or household. MSDH recommends that Mississippians only participate in work, school or other absolutely essential activities, and avoid gatherings such as social events, sporting events, in-person church services, and weddings and funerals unless they involve only close family (preferably outdoors).

The Governor has ordered the following statewide restrictions on gatherings:

  • Large gatherings, especially indoors, are discouraged. Gatherings and group activities are limited to 10 people indoors and 50 people outdoors when individuals from different households are closer than six feet apart, by order of the Governor.
  • Limits on gathering sizes do not apply to students in classrooms, voting precincts and religious entities.
  • Indoor arena attendance is limited to 10% or less of full capacity, not to exceed 1,000 persons, to ensure at least 6 feet of separation between those from different households.
  • Outdoor arena attendance is limited to 25% or less of full capacity to ensure at least 6 feet of separation between those from different households.
  • Organized school events for kindergarten through grade 12 have special face covering and social distance requirements. More details »

See the Governor's executive order 1535 for details and restrictions on additional venues.

State Agencies

Businesses and Workplaces

Workplaces should be mindful of providing strong hygiene support and facilitating social distancing for the safety of their employees and patrons. Employees who are sick should stay at home, and employees should be checked daily for COVID-19 symptoms.

  • All retail businesses, gyms, restaurants and bars must limit the number of customers to no greater than 75% capacity. At least six feet between individuals of different households must be maintained.
  • Masks or face coverings are strongly encouraged for employees in contact with the public, and for all employees when a separation of at least six feet cannot be maintained between others.
  • Employees of businesses such as salons and tattoo services which involve close contact with customers must wear a face covering at all times, and customers must use a face covering at all times when it does not interfere with receiving service. Customers must be separated by a distance of at least 6 feet from others not in their  household.
  • Businesses should take every measure to ensure social distancing and proper hand hygiene for customers.

See Governor's order 1535 for details and other businesses affected.

Restaurants and bars

  • Bars may sell alcohol only to seated customers. Bar hours are restricted to 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.
  • All restaurants and bars must limit the number of customers to no greater than 75% capacity.
  • All parties or groups must be separated by a minimum of 6 feet.
  • All employees must be screened for symptoms of COVID-19 daily.
  • All employees must wear a face covering when serving the public.

Report a restaurant that is not following COVID-19 safety orders: E-mail the details to food@msdh.ms.gov

Long-Term Care Facilities

Visitation to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities is now highly restricted in order to protect residents.

  • Discontinue group social activities and group visits to help prevent possible disease transmission.
  • Post signs that discourage all nonessential visitation and discourage ill visitors from entering the facility.
  • Keep all ill visitors away from the facility for at least 48 hours after symptoms resolve.
  • Only allow visitors for residents receiving end-of-life care or to provide critical assistance.
  • Facilities may permit other visitation if they observe conditions that their supervising health professional considers safe. Electronic visits are to be encouraged.
  • Permitted visitors should only visit their family members and should not have contact with other residents.
  • Permitted visitors should cover their coughs and be educated on the importance of hand hygiene.
  • Make sure the facility has plenty of hand washing products and that essential visitors have access to them.

Schools, Colleges and Universities

The Mississippi State Department of Health has created guidelines to assist school administrators in re-opening decisions during COVID-19 and in addressing cases, exposure and quarantine.

School Events (K-12)

Organized extracurricular school events (including sports events, music and theater performances and others) for kindergarten through grade 12 are subject to these restrictions:

  • Attendance at outdoor events is limited to 50% of the venue's seating capacity to ensure social distancing of at least six feet between persons from different households.
  • Attendance at indoor events is limited to four attendees per student participant, not to exceed 250 ticketed attendees (excluding school faculty and staff, media and medical personnel).
  • Face coverings must be worn at all times by those over five years old when not seated, and any time when closer than six feet to others not of the same household.
  • Indoors or outdoors, strive to maintain a distance of six feet or more from those not in your household.
  • Face coverings are still strongly recommended at outdoor events even while social distancing.

Youth Sports

  • See the restrictions on arena limits in the Social Gatherings section above.

Child Care Facilities

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:

Church and Worship Services

Like any gathering, church services have the potential to spread COVID-19 infection if they are not resumed with suitable precautions. Guidelines have now been issued to help churches offer in-person services while minimizing the risk of disease transmission.

Funeral Homes and Mortuaries

MSDH has specific guidance for services of this type.

Correctional and Detention Facilities

Other Community Guidance

The CDC offers prevention, response and re-opening guidance for:

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

Travel Planning

General Information

COVID-19 is a new respiratory virus that causes flu-like illness ranging from mild to severe, with symptoms of fever, coughing, fatigue and difficulty breathing. Like the flu, COVID-19 spreads person-to-person by close contact (within 6 feet) and by coughing or sneezing. COVID-19 may also spread by touching surfaces contaminated by the virus.

Get COVID-19 e-mail updates daily with our free newsletter: 
Last reviewed on Oct 1, 2020
Mississippi State Department of Health 570 East Woodrow Wilson Dr Jackson, MS 39216 866-HLTHY4U Contact and information

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