Everything We Know: COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Updates

By JOSHUA WILSON,

The staff of The PineBelt NEWS is committed to bringing you timely and accurate reporting regarding COVID-19 (coronavirus).

Please see below for our latest updates and stories, and share this direct link, www.hubcityspokes.com/coronavirus, with anyone who may be interested in local coverage.

*** Visit www.hubcityspokes.com/viruschanges for a complete list of school closures, business hour changes, business and restaurant closures, dining room closures and event cancellations.

COVID-19 Updates - April 3, 2020 at 9:00 a.m.

STATEWIDE SHELTER-IN-PLACE ORDER IS EFFECTIVE TODAY

A statewide shelter-in-place order – issued by Gov. Tate Reeves Wednesday afternoon – goes into effect at 5 p.m. Friday.

Under the order, Mississippians are to stay home unless going out for essential services, to perform essential work or to participate in some forms of recreation. The order is in effect until 8 a.m. on Monday, April 20, unless rescinded, modified or extended.

Read the full story by clicking here.

COVID-19 Updates - April 2, 2020 at 12:00 p.m.

NEW CASES AND FATALITIES

There are 1,177 total cases in the state with 26 total deaths. There are now 26 cases in Forrest County with one death and eight cases in Lamar County (up two from yesterday).

COVID-19 Updates - April 2, 2020 at 7:00 a.m.

FESTIVAL CANCELED

The Hattiesburg Concert Association, which presents FestivalSouth, announced Wednesday that the festival has been canceled and that all events have been moved to 2021.

However, online voting in the Best of the Pine Belt awards, which are sponsored by Signature Magazine, will continue.

Read the full story by clicking here.

BE AWARE OF SCAMMERS

Officials from the Forrest County Sheriff's Office are asking residents to be diligent in keeping themselves safe from the likes of scammers and hackers that may try to take advantage of individuals during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Read the full story by clicking here.

NEW STORIES

Pick up a copy of this week's The PineBelt NEWS for the latest stories. View the digital edition by clicking here.

COVID-19 Updates - April 1, 2020 at 6:15 p.m.

FORREST GENERAL DEATH

Forrest Health officials announced Wednesday evening the system’s first patient death due to the COVID-19 virus.

The elderly patient died Wednesday at Forrest General Hospital in Hattiesburg.

“We want to express our deepest sympathy to the patient’s family during this time of loss,” said hospital officials in an emailed statement.

COVID-19 Updates - April 1, 2020 at 4:00 p.m.

GOVERNOR ISSUES STAY-AT-HOME ORDER

On Wednesday, Gov. Tate Reeves issued a stay-at-home order that will go into effect at 5 p.m. Friday.

All non-essential businesses are to stop all activities other than those necessary for minimum operations and enable employees to work from home.

Restaurants may stay open for drive-thru, curbside and delivery service, and people may leave their homes only to perform essential activities, such as caring for someone in the vulnerable population, getting food or necessary supplies or working for an essential business.

When outside of their homes, people must follow social distancing guidelines by maintaining a 6-foot distance from others and avoiding groups of 10 or more.

The order expires at 8 a.m. on April 20.

COVID-19 Updates - April 1, 2020 at 1:00 p.m.

Gov. Tate Reeves could issue a statewide shelter in place order as early as Wednesday afternoon, according to a report from Mississippi Today.

The governor’s decision is based in part on models showing Mississippi’s cases peaking near the end of April and early May, said the report.

Mississippi Today obtained parts of an email Dr. LouAnn Woodward, vice chancellor of the University of Mississippi Medical Center, sent Reeves early Wednesday.

In the email, she said, “Without a statewide ‘shelter in place’ starting very soon (which is proving effective elsewhere), our health system will be overwhelmed. The immediate time frame (right now) is our last inflection point in controlling COVID-19 spread in our state.”

Woodward also wrote that a statewide order “is the only additional thing we can do right now to decrease the force of the impact.”

At least 33 states have issued shelter in place orders. Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida issued such an order Wednesday afternoon.

COVID-19 Updates - April 1, 2020 at 10:00 a.m.

NEW CASES AND FATALITIES

There are 1,073 total cases in the state with 22 total deaths. There are now 27 cases in Forrest County (up six from yesterday) and six cases in Lamar County (up one from yesterday).

COVID-19 Updates - March 31, 2020 at 7:00 p.m.

Effective immediately, the City of Lumberton has imposed a curfew, along with several restrictions at businesses and other establishments to help halt the spread of coronavirus in the community. Read the full story by clicking here.

COVID-19 Updates - March 31, 2020 at 12:00 p.m.

NEW CASES AND FATALITIES

There are 937 total cases in the state with 20 total deaths. There are now five cases in Lamar County (up one from yesterday) and 21 cases in Forrest County.

COVID-19 Updates - March 31, 2020 at 7:00 a.m.

USM COMMENCEMENT UPDATE

Commencement ceremonies at the University of Southern Mississippi have been tentatively rescheduled. These plans are subject to change pending future public health guidance.

Graduate students based on the Hattiesburg campus will graduate on Aug. 20, and undergraduate students based on the Hattiesburg campus will graduate on Aug. 21.

COVID-19 Updates - March 30, 2020 at 7:00 p.m.

NEW STORIES

Over the weekend, the City of Hattiesburg’s administrative team learned that an employee in Public Works tested positive for COVID-19. Read the full story by clicking here.

Renovations to Cook Library at the University of Southern Mississippi have been halted after an employee of the subcontractor assigned to the project tested positive for COVID-19. Read the full story by clicking here.

COVID-19 Updates - March 30, 2020 at 10:00 a.m.

NEW CASES AND FATALITIES

The Mississippi State Department of Health reported a total of 847 cases of COVID-19 in the state with 16 deaths.

There are 21 cases in Forrest County and four cases in Lamar County.

COVID-19 Updates - March 30, 2020 at 9:00 a.m.

ANIMAL SHELTER WAIVES ADOPTION FEES

Thanks to a generous donor, Southern Pines Animal Shelter in Hattiesburg has waived all adoption fees for available animals until April 27. Read the full story by clicking here.

COVID-19 Updates - March 29, 2020 at 12:00 p.m.

NEW CASES AND FATALITIES

There are 95 new cases of COVID-19 in the state, bringing the total number of positive cases to 758. There have been 14 deaths from the virus.

In Forrest County, there are 19 cases; in Lamar County, there are four cases. No deaths have been reported from these counties.

COVID-19 Updates - March 28, 2020 at 2:30 p.m.

CURBSIDE TESTING

In response to the COVID-19 epidemic, Forrest General Hospital and Hattiesburg Clinic are now offering curbside testing for COVID-19. This testing will be provided through the Cough & Fever Clinic, located at the Cloverleaf Medical Plaza at 5909 U.S. 49 in Hattiesburg.

Read the full story by clicking here.

COVID-19 Updates - March 28, 2020 at 8:30 a.m.

NEW CASES AND FATALITIES

On Saturday morning, the Mississippi State Department of Health reported 663 total cases of COVID-19 in the state. There have been 13 deaths from the virus.

There are 18 cases in Forrest County and four cases in Lamar County.

USM WAIVES GRADUATE REQUIREMENTS

In response to current restrictions created by the COVID-19 health crisis, the University of Southern Mississippi is temporarily waiving requirements for the Graduate Management Admission Test and the Graduate Records Examinations for all Graduate School applicants during the summer and fall 2020 admission periods. Read the full story by clicking here.

COVID-19 Updates - March 27, 2020 at 3:00 p.m.

NEW STORY

Hattiesburg schools hold drive-thru lines for school supplies, materials: Read the full story by clicking here.

NEW CASES AND FATALITIES

The Mississippi State Department of Health reported 579 total COVID-19 cases Friday with eight total deaths. For a breakdown of cases and fatalities, click here.

COVID-19 Updates - March 26, 2020 at 12:00 p.m.

RANKIN COUNTY DEATH

On Thursday, the Mississippi State Department of Health reported one new death from coronavirus in Mississippi, bringing the state total to six.

The case was a Rankin County male, 80-85 years old with underlying health conditions, who died while hospitalized.

COVID-19 Updates - March 26, 2020 at 10:30 a.m.

NEW CASES

The Mississippi State Department of Health reported 108 new cases of COVID-19 in the state Thursday morning, bringing the state total up to 485.

There are 16 cases in Forrest County and four in Lamar County.

SMALL BIZ LOANS AVAILABLE

The Small Business Administration is offering low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to Mississippi small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read the full story by clicking here.

LIBRARY CURBSIDE PICKUP

The Library of Hattiesburg, Petal and Forrest County is now offering curbside pickup for certain books.

Mobile bookshelves with fiction, nonfiction, young adult and children’s books have been set up near the front door of the Hattiesburg branch, which is located at 329 Hardy Street in downtown Hattiesburg. The shelves will be available from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Read the full story by clicking here.

COVID-19 Updates - March 26, 2020 at 9:30 a.m.

STORIES FROM OUR THURSDAY EDITION

Local quilters sewing masks for health care workers: Read the full story by clicking here.

Forrest Co. supes give update on virus order: Read the full story by clicking here.

As virus rages, funeral homes adjust to a new way of doing business: Read the full story by clicking here.

Hattiesburg Convention Commission takes measures to continue revenue, help area restaurants in face of virus: Read the full story by clicking here.

Hattiesburg public schools providing breakfast, lunch for students during crisis: Read the full story by clicking here.

Supervisors hear update on PPE, approve wireless for county sites: Read the full story by clicking here.

Southern Miss students adjust to virtual classes following campus close: Read the full story by clicking here.

Local schools begin at-home learning and feeding plans for current closure: Read the full story by clicking here.

Hattiesburg Tourism Commission looks to weather economic loss at hotels caused by the coronavirus: Read the full story by clicking here.

Petal alderman-at-large special election pushed back to June 1: Read the full story by clicking here.

Food pantries, soup kitchens meet needs during crisis: Read the full story by clicking here.

PRCC UPDATE

Classes resume in an online format on Monday, March 30. College officials said Thursday that “PRCC has continuously invested in eLearning technology and training resources over the past several years” and Dr. Adam Breerwood, president, “feels the institution is more than prepared for the upcoming transition.”

According to a press release from the college, “alternative learning opportunities” are being explored for career and technical programs and lab-based courses.

“For certain programs, students will have to come together,” Breerwood said. “However, we will not be bringing the entire class in at one time. We plan to implement more of a hybrid approach where necessary while making sure students are in a safe, sanitized environment.”

Students living in college dormitories must complete a request form if they are in need of continued campus housing, and these wishes will be considered individually, according to the press release.

At this time, no offices will be open to the public, and essential personnel will be “taking care of day-to-day business in various offices with others working remotely.”

FORREST GENERAL HOTLINE

Forrest General Hospital has established a hot line telephone number for anyone calling with general questions regarding COVID-19 or other general questions related to visitors, symptoms, supplies and more. The hot line is staffed with nurses from 7 a.m. until 11 p.m. seven days a week. The phone number is (601) 288-1111.

COVID-19 Updates - March 25, 2020 at 7:00 p.m.

NEW STORIES

In keeping with guidelines, recommendations and regulations handed down by health and other local officials during the COVID-19 pandemic, Hattiesburg City Council has cut the number of its April meetings in half – from the usual four down to two – and will move those meetings from City Hall to a larger location. Read the full story by clicking here.

To assist Hattiesburg’s health care community, first responders and a general need for personal protective equipment, the City of Hattiesburg will host a mask drive-thru and drop-off event from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. March 26-28 at Jackie Dole Sherrill Community Center, 220 West Front St. in downtown Hattiesburg. Read the full story by clicking here.

NEW FATALITIES REPORTED

The Mississippi State Department of Health has reported two more coronavirus deaths in the state, bringing the total number of fatalities to five.

Four deaths have been reported Wednesday, including:

A Wilkinson County male, 85-90 years old with underlying conditions, who died while hospitalized.

A Tunica County female, 75-80 years old, who died in a long-term care facility.

A Webster County man, 65-70 years old with underlying health conditions, who died while hospitalized.

A Holmes County man, 60-65 years old with underlying health conditions, who died while hospitalized.

The first death was reported on March 19. That case was a Hancock County man, 60-65 years old with underlying health conditions, who died while hospitalized.

According to the Associated Press, testing remains so limited in the state that it's unclear whether the outbreak has caused other deaths without being identified as the reason.

As of Tuesday evening, there are at least 377 positive coronavirus cases in the state.

COVID-19 Updates - March 25, 2020 at 10:30 a.m.

NEW CASES

The Mississippi State Department of Health reported 57 new positive coronavirus cases in the state Wednesday morning and one new death. The deceased is a male 60-65 years old from Holmes County with underlying health conditions. He died while hospitalized.

There are now 377 cases in the state with two deaths reported. There are two positive cases in Lamar County and 15 positive cases in Forrest County.

COVID-19 Updates - March 24, 2020 at 10:00 p.m.

NEW STORY

With the cases of COVID-19 in the local community almost tripling over a three-day period – rising from five presumptive positive cases to 14 in Forrest County as of Tuesday night – Mayor Toby Barker has issued another executive order that limits the number of customers at Hattiesburg businesses such as grocery stores and pharmacies, and closes certain non-essential establishments until at least April 30.

Read our full story by clicking here.

COVID-19 Updates - March 23, 2020 at 11:00 a.m.

NEW CASES

As of 6 p.m. Monday, there are 320 positive cases of COVID-19 in Mississippi, including two in Lamar County and 14 in Forrest County, according to the Mississippi State Department of Health. The state health department lab has tested 1,872 individuals for COVID-19.

COVID-19 Updates - March 23, 2020 at 12:00 p.m.

NEW STORY

Following shortly behind similar declarations issued by officials in Forrest County and Hattiesburg, Petal Mayor Hal Marx has declared an emergency declaration restricting all city restaurants, bars and nightclubs to take-out, pickup or delivery only, along with restrictions for certain other establishments, until further notice.

On Monday, Marx issued Executive Order 2020-1 in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, heeding the advice of the Mississippi State Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control.

Read our full story by clicking here.

COVID-19 Updates - March 23, 2020 at 9:00 a.m.

NEW CASES

The first case of COVID-19 has been detected in Lamar County, according to the Mississippi State Department of Health. There are 42 new cases as of Monday morning, bringing the state's total number of positive cases to 249.

Forrest County has 11 cases.

COVID-19 Updates - March 22, 2020 at 10:00 a.m.

NEW CASES

There are 67 new cases of COVID-19 in the state, including six new cases in Forrest County. The state now has 207 cases.

COVID-19 Updates - March 21, 2020 at 2:30 p.m.

NEW STORY

As of midnight March 21, all restaurants and bars throughout Forrest County are banned from offering any dine-in services, and are limited to providing only takeout, delivery, pickup or drive-through services as applicable until further notice.

Read our full story by clicking here.

COVID-19 Updates - March 21, 2020 at 1:00 p.m.

NEW STORY

Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker issued an executive order Saturday that shuts down restaurant dining rooms, closes entertainment venues and restricts public gatherings to no more than 10 people.

The executive order, 2020-2, goes into effect at midnight.

Read our full story by clicking here.

COVID-19 Updates - March 21, 2020 at 10:00 a.m.

NEW CASES

The Mississippi State Department of Health reports 60 new cases of COVID-19 in Mississippi Saturday morning, including one new case in Forrest County. There are now 140 positive cases in Mississippi.

COVID-19 Updates - March 20, 2020 at 7:00 p.m.

STATE HEALTH DEPARTMENT UPDATE

Effective immediately, the Mississippi State Department of Health recommends that all restaurant and bars suspend dine-in service in order to help slow the spread of COVID-19. This decision is consistent with the social distancing principles from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and in line with actions taken by other states.

This recommendation is for the foreseeable future.

Restaurants may still offer carryout or delivery orders to their customers.

“This will in no way affect gas stations, pharmacies, grocery stores or food marts,” said State Health Officer Dr. Thomas E. Dobbs III.

Additionally, MSDH is recommending that Mississippi residents not attend funerals, weddings, church services or other community or social events with expected attendance of more than 10 people.

Currently, Mississippi has reported 80 positive cases of COVID-19 and one death. A significant increase in positive cases and additional deaths are expected.

COVID-19 Updates - March 20, 2020 at 4:00 p.m.

BLOOD DRIVE LOCATION CHANGE

Due to overwhelming response, Saturday's 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. blood drive, coordinated by Forrest General Hospital and Vitalant, has been moved to Lake Terrace Convention Center.

Donors can also give from noon until 6 p.m. on Sunday at the convention center.

COVID-19 Updates - March 20, 2020 at 3:15 p.m.

NEW STORY

In a special-called meeting Thursday, the Forrest County Board of Supervisors approved a number of restrictions on businesses within the county, mirroring a similar order issued Tuesday by Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker.

The board also approved a plan to add wireless internet to 14 county-owned sites, including community centers.

Read our full story by clicking here.

COVID-19 Updates - March 20, 2020 at 9:30 a.m.

NEW CASES

On Friday morning, the Mississippi State Department of Health reported 30 new positive COVID-19 cases in Mississippi, bringing the total number of cases to 80.

New cases were reported in Adams, Coahoma, DeSoto, Franklin, Hancock, Harrison, Hinds, Holmes, Humphreys, Jackson, Lafayette, Lawrence, Lee, LeFlore, Madison, Marshall, Monroe, Pike, Rankin, Tippah and Webster counties.

COVID-19 Updates - March 19, 2020 at 4:00 p.m.

FIRST COVID-19 DEATH IN MISSISSIPPI

The Mississippi State Department of Health has reported the first death from COVID-19 in Mississippi. The patient was a male, 60-65 years old, from Hancock County with chronic underlying conditions. He died in a Louisiana hospital.

COVID-19 Updates - March 19, 2020 at 2:30 p.m.

NEW STORY

With Gov. Tate Reeves’ recent order to close all public schools throughout Mississippi until April 17 to limit any chance of exposure to the coronavirus, local school officials have put together plans to ensure students still receive vital services, including online at-home learning and meal plans. Read our full story by clicking here.

PROCEDURES POSTPONED

The Mississippi State Department of Health has postponed all elective medical procedures and non-essential medical visits.

The restriction is due to a shortage of protective medical equipment, according to a release from the department.

Physicians, hospitals and medical centers “must defer elective surgical and diagnostic procedures until COVID-19 spread has diminished and the supply of protective medical equipment is restored.”

Physicians and providers should reschedule non-urgent medical appointments for a later date. Dentists must also delay routine dental procedures or non-emergency procedures.

COVID-19 Updates - March 19, 2020 at 2:15 p.m.

We are rounding up all schedule changes, including business and school closures and event cancellations, on this page.

COVID-19 Updates - March 19, 2020 at 1:15 p.m.

SACRED HEART SCHOOL UPDATE

Sacred Heart Catholic School will be physically closed through April 17, and schools are expected to reopen on April 20.

Teachers, staff and administrators will continue to work, and distance learning will be in place.

Spring break will be April 9-10 and the following week, April 13-17.

All activities will be canceled or delayed while the school is utilizing distance learning.

COVID-19 Updates - March 19, 2020 at 10:30 a.m.

GOVERNOR CLOSES SCHOOLS

As the state reports 16 new COVID-19 cases, Gov. Tate Reeves has ordered all public schools to close until April 17.

NEW CASES

As of Thursday morning, there are now four cases of COVID-19 in Forrest County and 50 statewide.

The state health department announced there are 16 new cases and that 602 people have been tested.

COVID-19 Updates - March 18, 2020 at 9:00 p.m.

WALMART UPDATE

Walmart stores will operate from 7 a.m. until 8:30 p.m. daily beginning Thursday.

“Our associates will continue to have access to their regular scheduled shifts and full hours,” according to a press release.

The retailer will also host an hour-long senior shopping event every Tuesday for customers aged 60 and older. This will begin March 24 and continue through April 28.

Walmart stores will have limits for customers in certain categories including paper products, milk, eggs, cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer, water, diapers, wipes, formula, and baby food.

Auto care centers will temporarily close.

COVID-19 Updates - March 18, 2020 at 7:30 p.m.

LOCAL SCHOOLS RESPOND

Petal School District will extend spring break to include March 23-27, and offices will close.

The Forrest County School District and Forrest County Agricultural High School will also extend spring break by one week, March 23-27.

The Lamar County School District previously extended the break through March 27. The district will reopen buildings for “limited staff” from 7 a.m. until noon on Monday, March 23, but “no one other than delivery staff will be allowed to enter the front door,” according to a Facebook post.

“Please do not come to our schools for information ... information will be distributed via email, phone calls and/or social media platforms,” said the post.

Sacred Heart Catholic School will be closed the week of March 23, but staff and teachers will work.

BLOOD DRIVES BEING HELD

The medical community is in critical need of blood donations, and there will be four chances to give blood beginning Friday, March 20.

Donors may give at the following dates, times and places:

• 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, March 20-21, at Forrest General Hospital in the Adeline parking lot adjacent to the hospital’s parking garage and water tower.

• 7 a.m. until noon on Monday, March 23, at The Orthopedic Institute, 27 Southern Pointe Parkway.

• 1-5 p.m. on Monday, March 23, at Pine Grove Behavioral Health and Addiction Services, 2255 Broadway Drive.

“The public is urged to get out and help the community by donating blood,” said a press release. “Tents will be set up with volunteers … if there is a wait, volunteers will take donors’ cell phone numbers and text them when it is their turn; this way, donors can wait in their vehicles until they receive a text.”

The blood drives are coordinated by Forrest General and Vitalant.

COVID-19 Updates - March 18, 2020 at 3:00 p.m.

THE GRAND THEATRE UPDATE

The Grand Theatre will temporarily close.

MERIT HEALTH WESLEY UPDATE

Merit Health Wesley is temperature screening patients, visitors and employees prior to entering the hospital as part of ongoing preparedness and their work to minimize unnecessary exposure to infectious or communicable diseases.

“Anyone with a temperature of 100.4 (or greater) will not be allowed to enter the hospital and will be redirected to another location for further screening,” said a statement from the hospital.

Access is controlled through doors in the emergency department, open 24 hours a day and seven days a week; the main lobby, open from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. daily; and the towers back entrance, open 6:30 a.m. until 6 p.m. Monday-Friday.

People with fever or respiratory symptoms may not visit patients in the hospital. The hospital has limited visitors to one immediate family member, partner or significant other ages 18 and older per patient at any given time.

No person under age 18 may visit, and there are no visitors on the transitional care unit or the senior behavioral health unit.

COVID-19 Updates - March 18, 2020 at 9:15 a.m.

NEW COVID-19 CASES

There are 13 new cases of COVID-19 in the state, bringing the total number of cases to 34.

The cases are in the following counties:

• Bolivar, 2

• Coahoma, 2

• Copiah, 2

• DeSoto, 1

• Forrest, 3

• Hancock, 2

• Harrison, 4

• Hinds, 6

• Jackson, 1

• Leflore, 4

• Madison, 1

• Monroe, 1

• Pearl River, 4

• Perry, 1

USM UPDATE

University of Southern Mississippi officials announced that commencement ceremonies will not be held in May.

“We are working as quickly as possible to identify an alternate date for the ceremonies, but it is unlikely they will be held prior to the latter part of the summer,” according to a statement released Tuesday evening.

The university remains open for “limited business operations and essential functions for students, including campus housing and dining services,” but public access for visitors is suspended. Students, faculty and staff should keep their university identification with them at all times.

COVID-19 Updates - March 18, 2020 at 8:00 a.m.

ANIMAL SHELTER SEEKS HELP

Southern Pines Animal Shelter is seeking temporary foster homes for both cats and dogs in order to “make space for incoming pets,” according to a press release.

“With many people making the responsible decision to slow the outbreak of the virus by staying at home, the shelter has seen a subsequent drop in local adoptions,” said the release. “However, the shelter is still receiving in need from contract cities and municipalities, putting an increased burden on the shelter’s resources and personnel.”

The shelter is offering curbside adoption services and meet-and-greets with animals eligible for foster homes and adoption. Through March 22, all adoption fees for cats and dogs are waived.

For more information, visit www.southernpinesanimalshelter.org.

BEDFORD CARE CENTERS UPDATE

Bedford Care Centers has restricted visitors to all centers until further notice.

Each center has been equipped with computers and iPads offering “alternative visitation opportunities including FaceTime and Skype.”

CLAY SHOOT RESCHEDULED

The 27th annual Si Robertson Sporting Clay Shoot, which benefits Homes of Hope for Children, has been rescheduled to May 21.

LAMAR COUNTY LIBRARIES

The Lamar County Library System is closed until further notice.

COVID-19 Updates - March 17, 2020 at 6:15 p.m.

To help protect the health of the community during the current COVID-19 pandemic, Mayor Toby Barker has issued an executive order that will limit the hours and services of Hattiesburg restaurants, bars and nightclubs – including closing earlier and limiting the number of customers – while still allowing those establishments to fulfill the needs of their patrons.

Read our full story by clicking here.

COVID-19 Updates - March 17, 2020 at 5:00 p.m.

CATHOLIC DIOCESE OF BILOXI UPDATE

The Catholic Diocese of Biloxi, which includes the Hattiesburg area, announced that, starting Wednesday, all daily and Sunday public masses are temporarily canceled.

“However, churches will remain open with limited hours for parishioners and others who wish to pray and seek spiritual assistance,” according to a press release from Bishop Louis F. Kihneman III.

According to the release, all Catholics in the diocese are “dispensed from the obligation” of attending mass.

COVID-19 Updates - March 17, 2020 at 4:00 p.m.

HATTIESBURG CONVENTION COMMISSION UPDATES

Lake Terrace Convention Center has closed through April 3, and officials are working with clients “with planned large gatherings to determine the best way to address their events in light of current health advisories” and the building’s closure.

Hattiesburg Convention Commission and Area Development Partnership offices, which are located inside the building, will remain open, but building access is limited to these office spaces only.

The African American Military History Museum has closed until April 1.

The Saenger Theater has closed until mid-April.

PEARL RIVER COMMUNITY COLLEGE UPDATE

Pearl River Community College has extended spring beak to include the week of March 23-27, and academic classes will transition to an online format beginning March 30 for the remainder of the spring semester.

Students will receive further instructions via student email regarding the transition.

All on-campus events are canceled until April 30, and all services at child care facilities are discontinued until further notice.

All supervisors, administrative office personnel and department chairs should report to their offices at 8 a.m. on Monday, March 23 for further instructions. Faculty and staff will be notified by their respective department chair or supervisor for specific reporting instructions.

COVID-19 Updates - March 17, 2020 at 10:15 a.m.

NEW COVID-19 CASES IN MISSISSIPPI

The Mississippi State Department of Health reported nine new cases of COVID-19 in the state on Tuesday morning, bringing the total number of cases up to 21.

The cases are in the following counties:

• Copiah, 2

• Forrest, 3

• Hancock, 1

• Harrison, 1

• Hinds, 6

• Jackson, 1

• Leflore, 4

• Monroe, 1

• Pearl River, 2

The state is regularly updating its case by county chart. View the chart by clicking here.

POSTPONED GOLF TOURNAMENT

Hattiesburg Area Habitat for Humanity has postponed its third annual Habitat "FORE" Humanity Golf Tournament, originally scheduled for March 20.

"We will reschedule the tournament for some time in late May or June," said event organizers.

COVID-19 Updates - March 17, 2020 at 9:00 a.m.

DOLLAR GENERAL UPDATE

Dollar General Corporation will amend store hours and dedicate the first hour of each shopping day to senior shoppers, according to a press release from the company.

All stores “plan to close one hour earlier than current close times to allow employees to clean and re-stock store shelves.”

Additionally, the retailer “is strongly encouraging that the first hour of operations each day be dedicated solely for the shopping needs of senior customers, who are one of the groups most vulnerable to” COVID-19.

Other customers are “encouraging to plan their shopping trips around this window of time to allow the most susceptible customers in our communities the ability to shop during the first hour that stores are open.”

For a full list of stores and operating hours, click here.

COVID-19 Updates - March 16, 2020 at 8:00 p.m.

COUGH & FEVER CLINIC

In the face of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, Forrest General Hospital and Hattiesburg Clinic are partnering to open a Cough & Fever Clinic to help stop the spread of the virus by reducing the number of symptomatic patients who visit a primary or urgent care facility.

Read the full story by clicking here.

FITNESS FACILITY UPDATES

Crunch Fitness in Hattiesburg and in Petal will remain open but all group fitness classes will be canceled from March 17-30.

Orangetheory Fitness, located in the District at Midtown in Hattiesburg, has closed.

The Hattiesburg and Petal Family YMCAs will limit programming beginning March 17. The canceled programming includes group exercise and water aerobics classes, swim lessons, Petal youth soccer, Han Mu Do, steam room and saunas, and towel service.

HATTIESBURG HALF MARATHON UPDATE

The Hattiesburg Half Marathon, 10K and 5K will become a “virtual run.”

“Since this run is a fundraiser, we are doing things a little different from the usual virtual run,” wrote Rhonda Hayden, race director, in an emailed statement. “We will not be giving out medals, t shirts, bib numbers … we will be collecting results from our participants and posting the virtual race results on our website. We will be giving prizes to the overall winners and the age group winners.”

The virtual run will benefit 14 charities located within the Pine Belt.

RESTAURANT UPDATES

Curbside service and delivery within 10 miles are available at Crescent City Grill and Ed’s Burger Joint, both located on Hardy Street in Hattiesburg.

COVID-19 Updates - March 16, 2020 at 5:30 p.m.

RESTAURANT UPDATES

T-Bones Records & Cafe, located on Hardy Street in Hattiesburg, is offering curbside pickup for all online and call-in orders. A dine-in option is still available.

The Depot in downtown Hattiesburg is closing its indoor dining room “for the foreseeable future,” but the patio dining area will remain open. Take-out ordering is also available.

Zaxby’s, located on Hardy Street in Hattiesburg, is closing its dining room beginning March 17.

LIBRARY CLOSURE

The Library of Hattiesburg, Petal and Forrest County “will close until further notice,” according to their Facebook page.

COVID-19 Updates - March 16, 2020 at 5:00 p.m.

LAKE THOREAU OPEN FOR BUSINESS

Lake Thoreau Environmental Center, located at 150 Lake Thoreau Road in Hattiesburg, has postponed its annual Spring Plant Sale until the tentative date of May 9.

Additionally, due to spring break extensions and school closures, Lake Thoreau will be open every day of the week from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. for the remainder of March. The trails and lake will be open, but the main building will be closed; there will be access to restrooms and an outdoor handwashing station.

COVID-19 Updates - March 16, 2020 at 4:30 p.m.

GOVERNOR SIGNS EXECUTIVE ORDERS

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves signed a pair of executive orders responding to the COVID-19 pandemic on Monday afternoon.

Read the full story by clicking here.

COVID-19 Updates - March 16, 2020 at 4:00 p.m.

WILLIAM CAREY UPDATE

Beginning March 23, all William Carey University classes will be delivered in an online format, according to a statement from Dr. Tommy King, president.

The statement, which was posted to the university’s Facebook page, said students “who have paid for housing and/or board will be allowed to live on campus and take meals in the cafeteria if they choose to do so.”

Special arrangements are being made for professional programs that involve clinical components, said the statement.

LIVE @ FIVE POSTPONED

Live @ Five has been "indefinitely" postponed. For future announcements, text LIVEATFIVE to 66599.

ARTS COUNCIL CANCELLATIONS

The Hattiesburg Arts Council has canceled the reception for the fine arts exhibit by William Baggett and Lynne Joddrell Baggett, originally scheduled for March 21. The council has also canceled the coffee talk set for March 24.

PRCC ATHLETICS

Pearl River Community College announced Monday that the NJCAA, the governing body of community college sports, has canceled all spring competitions. The cancellation includes practices and regular season, postseason and national championship play.

COVID-19 Updates - March 15, 2020 at 3:00 p.m.

The Hattiesburg Zoo will close at 4 p.m. on Monday and will not reopen until “at least March 31 in an effort to help stop the spread” of COVID-19, according to a statement.

“Animal care will continue through our professional zookeepers while they implement personal safety procedures that are continuously updated in accordance with the (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and industry standards,” said the statement.

The zoo will post behind-the-scenes videos of “ongoing animal care and training processes each day” on their social media pages.

COVID-19 Updates - March 16, 2020 at 2:00 p.m.

EVENT CANCELLATIONS

The in-person drawing for the United Way of Southeast Mississippi $100K Payday, originally scheduled for Monday at Keg and Barrel, has been canceled. The drawing will instead be aired live on WDAM-TV and also on United Way's Facebook page.

The Lamar County Library System has temporarily suspended all programs, including story times, book clubs and any other scheduled events.

The Library of Hattiesburg, Petal and Forrest County has also temporarily suspended all programs, including story times, book clubs, outreach and Thursday Theater.

HattiesBARK Pet Parade & Block PAWty, originally scheduled for March 21, has been canceled.

"Bricks In The Wall: The Sight & Sound of Pink Floyd," originally scheduled for March 28 at the Saenger Theater, has been canceled.

The Purple Parrot Wine Festival, a fundraiser for Extra Table originally scheduled for April 3, has been canceled.

COVID-19 Updates - March 16, 2020 at 12:00 p.m.

FORREST COUNTY SHERIFF UPDATE

The Forrest County Sheriff’s Office is taking the appropriate precautions to best serve the public while protecting deputies, staff and inmates, according to Sheriff Charlie Sims.

Read the full story by clicking here.

COVID-19 Updates - March 16, 2020 at 11:15 a.m.

Two new cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Mississippi, bringing the total number of presumptive positive cases in the state to 12.

There are three cases in Forrest County. Other cases include two in Copiah, one in Hancock, two in Hinds, one in Leflore, one in Monroe and two in Pearl River counties.

COVID-19 Updates - March 16, 2020 at 9:30 a.m.

BUSINESS UPDATES

• Brass Hat, located in the District at Midtown in Hattiesburg, is offering a “front door delivery” service. A dine-in option is still available.

• Chick-fil-A has temporarily closed dining room seating to “help limit person-to-person contact,” according to a release from their corporate office.

• Cotton Blues on U.S. 98 in Hattiesburg has temporarily limited its menu, but a dine-in option is still available. The restaurant will also provide in-person delivery.

• FIKA in downtown Hattiesburg is closed from March 16-22 “to aid in slowing the spread” of COVID-19. Owners said in a Facebook message they will re-evaluate the situation in a week.

• Fuzzy’s Taco Shop in the District at Midtown in Hattiesburg has added curbside pickup service “until further notice.” A dine-in option is still available.

• Mack’s West Catfish, Seafood, Steaks & More on U.S. 98 in Hattiesburg is offering delivery service within a seven-mile radius. A dine-in option is still available.

• The Crab House on Hardy Street in Hattiesburg is closed with no definite re-opening date.

• The Depot in downtown Hattiesburg is closing at 2 p.m. daily.

• The Porter in downtown Hattiesburg has added curbside pickup service. A dine-in option is still available.

• Twisted Skillet on U.S. 98 in Hattiesburg is offering delivery service to elderly customers and to those with pre-existing conditions. Back door pick-up is also available. A dine-in option is still available.

• Sully’s, which has locations in Hattiesburg and Petal, has added curbside pickup service. A dine-in option is still available.

Email news@hubcityspokes.com to add a business update.

COVID-19 Updates - March 15, 2020 at 8:00 p.m.

CDC UPDATE

On Sunday night, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended no gatherings of 50 or more people in the U.S. for the next eight weeks.

DAR TOUR CANCELED

The third annual “If Tombstones Could Talk” tour of Oaklawn Cemetery, hosted by the 20th Star Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and originally set for March 29, has been postponed.

COVID-19 Updates - March 15, 2020 at 4:30 p.m.

FORREST HEALTH UPDATE

Forrest Health officials are asking the public to “listen to the facts.”

“There are many rumors that only add to people being fearful and anxious,” according to a statement posted on the hospital’s website Sunday. “We are doing our best to provide the most up-to-date, factual information.”

Read our full story by clicking here.

COVID-19 Updates - March 15, 2020 at 2:30 p.m.

PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION UPDATE

In a special meeting on Sunday, the Mississippi Public Service Commission voted to temporarily suspend disconnections of certain utility services. This restriction will be in place for 60 days and applies to all water, sewer, electricity and gas services.

“This is a temporary suspension of disconnection,” said a statement. “Utility customers should continue to pay outstanding bills and pay for services provided during the 60 days.”

COVID-19 Updates - March 15, 2020 at 12:00 p.m.

STATE UPDATE

There are now 10 total presumptive positive COVID-19 cases in Mississippi. Four new cases were reported today, including one in Copiah, one in Pearl River and two in Hinds counties.

COVID-19 Updates - March 14, 2020 at 9:00 p.m.

PRCC UPDATE

At this time, Pearl River Community College officials are not canceling classes.

A Saturday evening statement said the college, which is on spring break next week, will complete “a disinfection of the entire campus … as part of an action plan to prevent the spread of the virus.”

“These are uncharted waters,” said Dr. Adam Breerwood, the college’s president. “Each day new information changes the plan. There are many factors to consider when taking into account multiple levels of academic and career technical courses. We are doing our best to keep the community, employees and students informed.”

According to the statement, all information will be posted to the college’s social media websites and to www.prcc.edu/coronavirus.

WALMART UPDATE

Starting tomorrow, all Walmarts will change their hours to 6 a.m. until 11 p.m. until further notice.

"This will help ensure associates can clean and stock products,” according to a statement from the retail giant.

COVID-19 Updates - March 14, 2020 at 3:00 p.m.

LAMAR COUNTY SCHOOLS UPDATE

Following a statewide emergency declaration from Gov. Tate Reeves, the Lamar County School District has extended spring break, scheduled for next week, by an additional week. Students will return to school on Monday, March 30.

GOVERNOR ISSUES EMERGENCY DECLARATION

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves declared a statewide emergency Saturday afternoon.

The governor is urging schools to extend spring break by at least one week. He also asked churches to cancel services and for any other large gatherings this weekend to be canceled.

Earlier this week, Reeves and his family were vacationing in Spain, and the governor said he plans to self-quarantine for 14 days "out of an abundance of caution and care for others."

COVID-19 Updates - March 14, 2020 at 12:00 p.m.

WILLIAM CAREY UPDATE

There have been no changes to the class schedule at William Carey University, according to university officials.

Dr. Garry Breland, vice president for academic affairs, said the university is on spring break next week, and, at this time, students should be ready to return to classes on March 23.

Breland said all William Carey offices, which were originally scheduled to be open on Monday and Tuesday of next week, will be closed “due to having a lot of flu cases.”

The university’s COVID-19 Response Team, which Breland leads, is meeting regularly to prepare for “various eventualities,” he said. Faculty members have been prompted to prepare face-to-face classes for online delivery if needed.

“We have discussed what to do if any residential students should contract the virus, and will work with local healthcare authorities and systems for guidance concerning their care and for limiting spread of the virus. In the meantime, we are encouraging all our people to practice the same measures being advocated by others … handwashing, social distancing, covering coughs and sneezes, and staying home and seeking medical care if sick,” said Breland.

CITY OF PETAL UPDATE

Petal Mayor Hal Marx said in a Facebook post that he has signed a local emergency declaration for the city.

COVID-19 Updates - March 13, 2020 at 8:30 p.m.

Following the lead of the federal government on Friday afternoon, Forrest County Board of Supervisors President David Hogan and Mayor Toby Barker both signed documents declaring the response to COVID-19 a local emergency, which has been categorized as a pandemic event, for both Forrest County and the City of Hattiesburg.

This declaration will allow for the use of resources, equipment and money if it is needed to provide for the health and safety of the citizens.

Read the full story by clicking here.

COVID-19 Updates - March 13, 2020 at 7:30 p.m.

According to state health officials, there are six cases of COVID-19 in the state, including three in Forrest, one in Leflore, one in Copiah and one in Pearl River counties.

Dr. Thomas E. Dobbs III, state health officer for Mississippi, said new cases would be listed at www.healthyms.com.

Identifying information about a person affected with COVID-19, such as names or occupations, will not be released for legal reasons. Hospital names where cases occur will also not be released “in order to avoid stigmatizing” the hospital.

COVID-19 Updates - March 13, 2020 at 5:15 p.m.

Read our latest story, "State health officials: Six COVID-19 cases in Mississippi, including three in Forrest Co.," by clicking here.

COVID-19 Updates - March 13, 2020 at 4:00 p.m.

FARMERS MARKET OPENING POSTPONED

This season’s Grand Opening of the Downtown Hattiesburg Farmers Market, scheduled for March 19 in Town Square Park, has been postponed.

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH UPDATE

The Mississippi State Department of Health has announced a fourth COVID-19 case in Mississippi. Details will be released at a 4:30 p.m. press conference. Check back later for updates.

COVID-19 Updates - March 13, 2020 at 1:45 p.m.

HUBFEST CANCELED

The Area Development Partnership has canceled several events, including HUBFEST, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

HUBFEST was originally planned for March 28, but ADP officials announced the cancellation Friday afternoon.

Other ADP events canceled include the Legislative Forum on March 28, the Business After Hours at Community Bank on March 26 and Accelerate on April 3.

MERIT HEALTH WESLEY STATEMENT

Merit Health Wesley officials sent out a statement Friday afternoon saying the “hospital has been working collaboratively with the Mississippi Department of Health while testing was completed for a patient who presented to our facility.”

According to the statement, “initial test results confirmed the patient has COVID-19” and, after identifying the patient as potentially having COVID-19, “the individual was separated from other patients with a small team of caregivers. The infection control protocols was established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) were followed including the use of personal protective equipment for all staff providing medical care.”

The statement also said the patient “is doing well” and has been “discharged home under quarantine.”

WILLIAM CAREY ATHLETICS

The Southern States Athletic Conference announced the suspension of regular season competitions for all team sports until March 25 due to the latest developments of the coronavirus.

As a result, all William Carey athletics are suspended.

“It’s public health, it’s public safety, and you don’t want to put in anybody in a bad situation,” William Carey Athletic Director DJ Pulley said. “It’s a bigger picture, and at the end of the day, it’s just sports. You want to try and do what’s best for everybody and the general well-being of everybody involved to make the best decision you can. It’s such an evolving situation because you don’t know what’s happening from one minute to the next. We’ll look at it again next week and see what they are going to do next.”

COVID-19 Updates - March 13, 2020 at 12:00 p.m.

TWO ADDITIONAL CASES REPORTED IN FORREST COUNTY

Two additional presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Forrest County.

According to state health officials, one case is a Forrest County adult female over 65 who recently traveled to North Carolina. The other case is a Forrest County adult male, age not listed, who recently traveled to Florida and “has been self-isolating at home without hospitalization.”

The state’s first presumptive positive case was reported in Forrest County Wednesday night.

“We are conducting further investigation to determine if and how these cases might be connected to the first presumptive case. At this point, that is not clear, but we are thoroughly exploring all possibilities,” said Dr. Thomas E. Dobbs III, state health officer.

NEW STORY

Local school districts are not planning closures or mass cancellations of athletic events at this time. Read the full story by clicking here.

COVID-19 Updates - March 13, 2020 at 8:00 a.m.

HATTIESBURG CONVENTION COMMISSION UPDATE

Facilities operated by the Hattiesburg Convention Commission – including the Hattiesburg Zoo, Lake Terrace Convention Center, the Hattiesburg Saenger Theater and the African American Military History Museum – are “open and welcoming guests,” according to a press release.

“The starting point for safe facilities is an increased frequency of cleaning of high-touch areas,” said the release. The commission has added additional hand-sanitizing stations with more visible signage to lead guests to these resources.

The commission is also providing information about best hygiene practices and illness prevention to guests and employees.

At event venues such as the convention center, the commission is “working with all of our clients with planned large gatherings to determine the best way to address their events in light of current health advisories. For some, this means postponing gatherings or significantly modifying their programs.”

Further updates will be provided at hattiesburg.org.

COVID-19 Updates - March 12, 2020 at 9:00 p.m.

CHURCH UPDATES

Venture Church will cancel its in-person worship services at all campuses this Sunday. The Church Online campus will meet at normal service times.

Temple Baptist Church will also cancel its in-person service Sunday and will instead livestream its service. Starting Friday at 5 p.m., all church activities are postponed until further notice.

The Irish-Italian Festival sponsored by Saint Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church in Hattiesburg, originally scheduled for March 21, has been postponed.

COVID-19 Updates - March 12, 2020 at 8:00 p.m.

SPIRIT OF WOMEN EVENT POSTPONED

Forrest General Hospital’s annual Spirit of Women Spring event, scheduled for April 9 and featuring Purvis native and actress Lacey Chabert, has been postponed to a later date.

Spirit of Women hopes to announce a new date in the near future. Until then, ticketholders are urged to keep their tickets to ensure they have a seat when rescheduled. If a ticket holder is not able to attend, a refund will be issued. When a new date is announced, more information on ticket sales will be available.

PRCC UPDATE

Pearl River Community College will be closed next week for spring break. At this time. classes are scheduled to resume as normal on Monday, March 23 following the break.

COVID-19 Updates - March 12, 2020 at 4:15 p.m.

NEW STORIES

Read our latest story, "Health care facilities, including The Claiborne, react to COVID-19 case," by clicking here.

Read our latest story, "State health officer: COVID-19 'pandemic of our generation'," by clicking here.

Read our latest story, "Health officials: Coronavirus-positive Forrest Co. man flew in to Gulfport Airport from Florida," by clicking here.

FLOOD SAFETY EXPO CANCELED

The City of Hattiesburg's Flood Safety Expo, scheduled for Thursday, has been canceled.

SMALL FARMERS CONFERENCE CANCELED

The Alcorn State University Extension Program announced that the annual Small Farmers Conference, scheduled for April 13-15 in Hattiesburg, has been canceled.

PRCC ATHLETICS UPDATE

Based on developments with the coronavirus (COVID-19), the Mississippi Association of Community Colleges has announced the suspension of all practices and competition for all sports through March 30.

The NJCAA has already announced the postponement of all championship events until April 20, including the NJCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament, which was scheduled to start Monday in Hutchinson, Kansas. According to the NJCAA, start dates for all tournaments and championships will continue to follow state and local mandates, restrictions and regulations.

COVID-19 Updates - March 12, 2020 at 2:30 p.m.

SHOWTUNES PERFORMANCE CANCELED

“Showbiz: A Century of Showtunes,” scheduled for Thursday at the University of Southern Mississippi, has been canceled.

The School of Music said “those who have purchased tickets will be emailed … with information on ticket refund.”

GULF WARS CANCELED

Gulf Wars XXIX, scheduled for March 14-22 in Lumberton, has been canceled.

Event organizers said they are following recommendations of the Mississippi State Department of Health.

Attendees in need of refunds can contact registrations@gulfwars.org.

COVID-19 Updates - March 12, 2020 at 1:45 p.m.

PRCC ATHLETICS UPDATE

Due to developments regarding coronavirus (COVID-19), all national championship events have been postponed, the NJCAA announced Thursday.

Read the full story here.

COVID-19 Updates - March 12, 2020 at 1:30 p.m.

BOY SCOUTS EVENT CANCELED

Following discussions with the University of Southern Mississippi, and as a preventive measure, the Pine Burr Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America postponed the group’s March 13 annual recognition banquet until May 29. All tickets purchased will be honored, according to the group’s social media page. If you have questions, call 601.582.2326.

RESTAURANTS REACT

The Depot in downtown Hattiesburg said, in a Facebook post, that they are “taking measures to make sure our restaurant maintains its record of cleanliness and even more so during these times. We are disinfecting door handles and tables on the hour, every hour and are keeping our current high standards of great employee hygiene.”

According to a Facebook post, Southern Prohibition in downtown Hattiesburg is moving forward with plans for a comedy show Thursday evening and weekend events, including beer releases, a pub crawl and the Hattiesburg Census Kick-Off.

Robert St. John with New South Restaurant Group, which operates six restaurants and two bars in Hattiesburg, said he and his management team are “closely monitoring the current coronavirus situation and are taking anticipatory and defensive measures.” According to St. John, restaurant staff members have “intensified” protocols relating to sanitation efforts. Some of those efforts include a thorough cleaning and sanitization in the front and back of the house; education for team members; strict handwashing guidelines; and ensuring team members adhere to sick leave policies. Additionally, hand sanitizing stations have been installed in the dining rooms and public spaces of St. John’s properties, and all non-dining hard surfaces are being “heavily disinfected multiple times during each shift using hospital-grade sanitizer.”

USA DANCE CHAPTER UPDATE

USA Dance Chapter 6116 in Hattiesburg is continuing with scheduled classes and dances, including Thursday events and a monthly dance Saturday.

COVID-19 Updates - March 12, 2020 at 1 p.m.

Read our latest story, "Conference USA cancels all spring sports," here.

COVID-19 Updates - March 12, 2020 at 12:30 p.m.

Read our latest story, "Lamar Co. officials remain vigilant on coronavirus safety," here.

COVID-19 Updates - March 12, 2020 at 11:55 a.m.

NEW STORIES

Read our latest story, "Petal to temporarily shut down senior center, take steps to protect firefighters in response to coronavirus" here.

Read our latest story, "State health officials urge citizens to avoid mass gatherings, practice good hygiene; no closings for schools at this time" here.

USM UPDATE

Classes at all eight of the state’s public universities – including the University of Southern Mississippi – will “be taught online and via other alternative instructional methods” for the remainder of the spring semester.

Southern Miss will extend spring break through March 27, and classes will resume in their new formats on March 30.

Additionally, events sponsored by USM or hosted in USM facilities with 50 or more attendees are canceled.

USM ATHLETICS UPDATE

Conference USA canceled all spring sport competitions on Thursday morning.

In a release Thursday, the conference said, "effective immediately, all spring sport competition for Conference USA institutions is suspended until further notice."

"The decision was made in an effort to limit the spread of this virus and in the interest of the health and safety of our student-athletes, campus personnel, working and event personnel, the Hattiesburg community and all those who attend Southern Miss athletic events."

COVID-19 Updates – March 12, 2020 at 10:45 a.m.

The 3 p.m. information update at William Carey University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine has been limited to include the media and select university personnel.

According to William Carey officials, the limit was made at the request of the State Department of Health.

Additionally, the City of Hattiesburg has canceled a 10:30 a.m. press conference regarding National Athletic Training Month.

COVID-19 Updates – March 12, 2020 at 10:30 a.m.

State health officials announced Wednesday evening the first presumptive case of COVID-19 in Mississippi.

The case, which is pending final verification from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is in Forrest County. The individual is an adult male who recently traveled to Florida.

According to a press release from the Mississippi State Department of Health, “the patient voluntarily isolated himself at home to prevent further transmission to others” following confirmation from the state’s Public Health Laboratory.

The patient was not hospitalized, and state officials are conducting further investigation to limit spread of the virus.

Gov. Tate Reeves is “fully aware of the situation and remains in close contact with the State Health Officer for all elements of COVID-19 response,” said the release.

Dr. Thomas Dobbs, state health officer, will release additional information and guidelines at an 11 a.m. Thursday press conference in Jackson.

FORREST GENERAL HOSPITAL

• According to their website, a presumptive case of COVID-19 has been identified in Forrest County. The resident was “never a patient at Forrest General Hospital and is self-isolated at home.”

• “(Hospital) administration, leadership team members … and Forrest County Board of Supervisors have been assessing supply and equipment inventory and needs, looking at services such as home health and nursing homes, reviewing possible controlled access plans and many other possible scenarios. Planning and preparedness has been a priority. Forrest Health administration has been continuously meeting with several entities to prepare including state, county and city officials, and local organizations.”

• Hospital officials planned a 1 p.m. press conference to discuss COVID-19.

• Further updates will be posted at forrestgeneral.com.

MERIT HEALTH WESLEY

• According to their website, the hospital “is prepared for all types of infectious diseases such as measles, flu or new viruses” like COVID-19.

• “We are taking proactive steps for the protection of patients, our caregivers and the community and monitoring ongoing updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

• “All patients are being screened for COVID-19 symptoms and risk factors.”

• Hospital officials say they have a response plan to “protect patients and our staff should it be needed.”

• Further updates will be posted at merithealthwesley.com/covid-19.

THE UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI

• University of Southern Mississippi officials have halted all university-sponsored domestic and international travel “regardless of the mode of transportation.”

• Exceptions – such as for student-athlete travel or necessary research – can be issued by a dean, vice president or provost, but the possibility of a 14-day self-isolation requirement exists even for domestic travel.

• Southern Miss officials are strongly recommending against any personal international travel and will keep residence halls open over spring break for on-campus students. Students, faculty and staff are being requested to report any travel – domestic or international – to the university.

• According to their website, “the University’s Emergency Management Team and Moffitt Health Center remain in contact with state public health officials to ensure we are following the latest information, trends and guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Additionally, we are following alerts and recommendations from the U.S. Department of State.”

• Students and faculty members who recently returned from travel to South Korea and Europe have been screened for COVID-19 and currently have a “very low risk” for infection status.

• “Nevertheless, they are being assessed regularly to ensure campus and community safety. Nearly all the travelers are near or beyond the incubation period for COVID-19.”

• Further updates will be provided at usm.edu/news.

WILLIAM CAREY UNIVERSITY

• William Carey University officials said they had no public comment regarding their preparations for COVID-19 at this time, but an email sent to alumni said the university had “canceled exchange programs with China and other countries impacted by the virus.”

• The email added that the university “has plans in place to deal with any possible local infection, such as a room to isolate any student who may test positive.”

• Additionally, according to the email, all university trips to countries under CDC Level 2 or CDC Level 3 travel health notices have been canceled, and other planned travel will be carefully monitored.

• In the event of suspected infections, parents will be notified, said the email.

• According to a Facebook post from the university’s College of Osteopathic Medicine, a match day ceremony for the medical school, set for March 20, has been canceled “…in an effort to ensure the safety of our faculty, staff, students.”

• The public is invited to attend a 3 p.m. Thursday information update at the medical school in Hattiesburg. State Department of Health officials, along with faculty members, will present the update.

• Further updates will be provided at wmcarey.edu.

PEARL RIVER COMMUNITY COLLEGE

• According to their website, Pearl River Community College “is closely monitoring information” regarding COVID-19. Officials are “making preparations” in case the virus spreads closer to home.

• “PRCC has no known cases of the coronavirus on campus and currently has no students who are studying abroad.”

• Students who experience symptoms should contact the PRCC Health Services office.

• Students, faculty and staff traveling for spring break should remain aware of known locations of the coronavirus.

• Further updates will be provided at prcc.edu/coronavirus.

CITY OF HATTIESBURG

• Mayor Toby Barker convened with external stakeholders in the medical, education and emergency management communities on March 9 to discuss potential impacts and plans related to COVID-19.

• According to a city spokesperson, on March 10, “the City of Hattiesburg’s administrative team issued a memo to employees restricting out-of-town city-sponsored travel for 45 days. This measure is being implemented to lessen the potential impacts of the transmission of coronavirus.”

• Further updates will be provided at hattiesburgms.com/coronavirus.

COVID-19 Updates – Previous Updates

Southern Miss, William Carey take precautions, talk COVID-19 response (March 11, 2020)

Forrest General answers frequently asked questions regarding COVID-19 (March 5, 2020)