JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) -The latest report from the White House Coronavirus Task Force shows the majority of Mississippi counties branded as red zones. And Mississippi is one of 21 states with the same title. The task force defines its “red zone” states as more than 100 cases per 100,000 people and more than 10% test positivity.
The report, first obtained by the New York Times, recommends Mississippi move dining outdoors or limit indoor capacity at restaurants to 25 percent. Current state regulations allow for 50 percent capacity. Manship Wood Fired Kitchen managing partner Steven O’Neill says he doesn’t think 25 percent capacity is feasible for most restaurants to stay open.
“With six foot table distancing, I can’t even achieve over 35 percent,” explained O’Neill. “Right now, we are at about 35 percent capacity. But everyone in this restaurant is distanced six feet. Not nose to nose. It is six feet between tables...back of head to back of head.”
O’Neill says they’re spending more on safety measures, 1,000 extra dollars each week on gloves alone.
“We’re adapting daily now that our payroll protection has run out,”” he said. We don’t know if there’s going to be another round or not. We’re just trying to make our business viable for the 40 plus families that are employed here.”
The recommendations also suggest the state should close “establishments where social distancing and mask use can’t occur” like bars and entertainment venues. But the suggestion for the 71 “red zone” counties is to also shut down gyms. But some going to gyms say they didn’t hesitate to return.
“They wipe down everything,” said Demarius Kelly. “We wipe down everything before and after use every time we use anything and they’ve got everything six feet apart.”
We asked folks if they think the state is doing enough to keep us safe.
“No I don’t,” responded Robert Russell. “I think we opened up way too early. I think we went back too early. I noticed a lot of people aren’t social distancing in stores.”
“They can try closing down some businesses but the impact of that, I think would be greater than the COVID,” said another Jackson resident.
Hinds, DeSoto and Jackson Counties represented just over 20 percent of the new cases in the state in the time frame the report considered, July 18-24.