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WATCH: Speaker Gunn addresses many...

WATCH: Speaker Gunn addresses many issues surrounding life during COVID-19

By: Sarah Ulmer - March 31, 2020

Speaker of the House Philip Gunn hosted a Facebook live today and covered many questions individuals living through the COVID-19 pandemic have. He also said he would host another Q&A with Jackie Turner of MDES on Thursday to answer questions on how to claim unemployment benefits.

Interview with MDES

  • Because we have had so many questions regarding claims for unemployment benefits, I have invited Jackie Turner, Executive Director of MDES to join me for a Q&A event to answer your questions, and she has graciously agreed to join us.
  • That Q&A event will take place on Thursday and will be posted Friday as my daily video update.
  • We ask that you submit your questions ahead of time so that she can come prepared to answer them. Questions can be submitted to your State Representative who will forward those questions on to us or through our email address which is Please get those questions to us as soon as possible.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

  • We continue to receive inquiries about the shortage of PPE.
  • As I said yesterday, the Department of Health and MEMA are both aware of this and are working very hard to secure as much as they can from all over the world.
  • We believe more PPE will be delivered this week. However, no one should expect to receive all that they have requested.
  • Therefore, DOH is encouraging all providers to not be wasteful with PPE.
  • The CDC has information on its website for how to sterilize and reuse PPE so that its useful life can be maximized. Please encourage all health care providers to be resourceful and to go onto the CDC website and follow the recommendations for how to sterilize and reuse PPE.

Shelter in place order for Lauderdale County

  • As you may know by now, the Governor has ordered a shelter-in-place order for Lauderdale County (
  • This is because there has been an exceptionally high outbreak of the virus in the county.
  • This is not a statewide shelter in place order. It is specifically confined to the Lauderdale County area.
  • This highlights the importance of taking all the precautions that the Department of Health has recommended. If any area of the state sees a sudden spike in the number of cases it has, the Governor will likely issue a shelter-in-place order for that area as well.
  • Therefore, as we have said repeatedly, stay home as much as possible.
  • Avoid social gatherings of 10 or more people.
  • Wash your hands like your life depends on it.

Questions regarding the reporting of active cases

  • Many of you have expressed concern over the accuracy of the reporting of cases by county. Some of you have asked whether your county is being shortchanged on the receipt of PPE because the number of cases in your county is not being accurately reported.
  • The concern seems to be that, in many places around our state, a person’s mailing address may be in one county, but they live in another county. A good example would be Smith and Scott Counties. Many people who live in northern Smith County actually have receive their mail from the Forest, Scott County, Post Office. Therefore, their mailing address is Scott County but their physical address is actually in Smith County. When they test positive for the virus, they are being reported as a Scott County case because their mailing address is Scott County rather than being reported as a Smith County case, which is where they actually live.
  • The concern that has been asked is whether this affects the distribution of PPE. The question is whether PPE is distributed according to where the active cases are? If so, this active case would be credited to Scott County rather than Smith County where the person actually lives and would, therefore, skew the distribution of PPE toward Scott County. In other words, the concern is that Scott County is reporting a higher number of cases and is, therefore, getting more PPE when in reality the PPE should be going to Smith County because that is where the person actually lives. If the active cases are not being accurately reported, PPE is not being accurately distributed and some counties are getting shortchanged.
  • This morning I talked with DOH about this. They tell me they distribute PPE based upon the number of confirmed cases in a healthcare facility, not upon where the most reported cases are. Obviously, the highest-risk patients are found in long-term care facilities like nursing homes and hospitals, so these facilities are first in line to receive PPE.

Update on number of cases

  • 90 new cases reported yesterday.
  • Total cases statewide now number 937
  • Unfortunately, we now have 20 deaths.

Call if you need help

  • We have had phone calls to our office forwarded to our staff. If you need any help at all, please call us at 601-359-3300.
  • We have also set up an email address for you to ask questions or seek help. That address is
About the Author(s)
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Sarah Ulmer

Sarah is a Mississippi native, born and raised in Madison. She is a graduate of Mississippi State University, where she studied Communications, with an emphasis in Broadcasting and Journalism. Sarah’s experience spans multiple mediums, including extensive videography with both at home and overseas, broadcasting daily news, and hosting a live radio show. In 2017, Sarah became a member of the Capitol Press Corp in Mississippi and has faithfully covered the decisions being made by leaders on some of the most important issues facing our state. Email Sarah: