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Mississippi threatens fines, jail time for Covid patients who don't isolate

Mississippi State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs indicated sentences as long as five years could be in store for Covid-19 patients who fail to isolate.

Mississippi's top health official Friday threatened jail time for people diagnosed with Covid-19 who don't isolate in their homes.

State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs issued an "isolation order" that states, "All persons residing in Mississippi must immediately home-isolate on first knowledge of infection with COVID-19."

Failure to do so could result in fines and jail time. Dobbs' order mentions two possible levels of violation. One, a refusal to obey a health officer, comes with a $500 fine and, possibly, six months behind bars.

But the order says that where a life-threatening disease is involved in a refusal to obey, violators could face a fine of up to $5,000 and possibly five years behind bars.

State epidemiologist Paul Byers said Mississippi has the highest number of new Covid-19 cases per 100,000 residents in the nation. "These numbers are staggering guys," he said during a weekly Mississippi pandemic update.

Only seven ICU beds were available in the entire state Thursday as a result of its Covid-19 fourth wave.

On Thursday, the state reported 5,048 new cases and 54 deaths. By way of comparison, San Diego County, with a population size similar to Mississippi's, on Friday reported 1,495 new cases and seven new deaths.

The Mississippi order says Covid-19 patients must remain at home or an appropriate "residential location" for at least 10 days without contacting others.

It also said Mississippi schools must allow students and staff members who have Covid-19 to isolate away from campuses.