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Mississippi casinos close as precaution over coronavirus

Mississippi reported 12 confirmed cases of the virus as of Monday.

The Mississippi Gaming Commission said in its order closing the casinos that keeping them open “poses an immediate threat to the public peace, health, safety, and general welfare of patrons and employees.” State law limits casinos to areas along the Mississippi River and the Gulf Coast. More than 16,400 employees work in the 26 casinos, which are strong tourist attractions.

State lawmakers were at the Capitol on Tuesday but were expected to consider suspending their session for a few weeks.

The Mississippi Board of Education will have an online meeting Thursday to consider a recommendation from state Superintendent of Education Carey Wright. She is asking the board to suspend state and federal assessment and accountability requirements for this school year. If schools need to be closed for an extended period, Wright will recommend that the state board waive requirements for attendance, promotion and graduation, the state Department of Education said in a news release.

Gov. Tate Reeves issued two executive orders Monday. One makes the National Guard available at testing centers for the virus, with a goal of creating additional testing centers.

The other order allows schools and state and local governments to give time off to “nonessential personnel.” Reeves said he encourages other employers to do the same. He said that executive order also encourages schools to set up distance learning options.

He said the second executive order also instructs schools to continue providing free or reduced lunches to thousands of children, although it was not clear how that would be done. Volunteer groups in Tupelo and elsewhere around the state have been handing out free lunches.

Mississippi’s state health officer, Dr. Thomas Dobbs, said the 12 positive cases of the coronavirus had been found among 289 people tested in Mississippi by Monday. He said labs are accepting samples and testing them each day, and results are generally available in 24 hours or less.

The Mississippi State Department of Health website said that Forrest County had three virus cases by Monday. Copiah, Hinds and Pearl River counties had two each. Hancock, Leflore and Monroe had one each.

For most people, coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. People with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover, according to the World Health Organization.

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The Associated Press receives support for health and science coverage from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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