Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves held a press conference providing an update on his state’s response to the novel coronavirus and tornado damage on Tuesday.
Watch Reeve’s remarks in the video above.
Within hours of the tornado onslaught, which began Sunday and killed more than 30 people, church groups were out in damaged communities, and Southern Baptist volunteers were told to avoid holding hands with people as they prayed, said Sam Porter, director of disaster relief for the nearly 15 million-member denomination. Hugs also are out.
About 550 people in four states were staying in hotel rooms funded by the Red Cross since mass shelters were not an option, said Brad Kieserman, a vice president of the organization.
People are being fed catered meals delivered to the hotels instead of through a large kitchen, he said, and workers are wearing masks, gloves and other gear when dealing with people affected by the storms. Other agencies are making similar provisions, he said.
“How ironic is it that the very thing that may unify people and unify communities is the condition in which we have to remain 6 feet apart,” Kieserman said.
The death toll from the outbreak rose to at least 34 as officials said a 12th person had died in Mississippi. There, Gov. Tate Reeves, who toured damaged areas, said the pandemic was making a bad situation worse.
“The fact that the coronaviruses exist is complicating the recovery from the tornado, while the tornadoes are complicating our efforts to make sure that we do everything in our power to stop the spread of the virus,” Reeves said during a stop in tiny Soso. “It is it is exceptionally complicated, and it’s tough on all of us.”