On Friday, August 20, 2021, Mississippi State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs issued an isolation order that explains that any person living in Mississippi must immediately isolate at home if they have been exposed to COVID-19 or else face criminal charges.
In the isolation order, there are two potential penalties that a person could face. If a person refuses to obey a health officer, that person could face a $500 fine and up to six months in the local jail. In addition, the order states that if a person refuses to obey a health officer involving a life-threatening disease then the person will face a fine of up to $5,000 and possibly five years in jail.
Regardless, the order explains that any person, including vaccinated persons, infected with COVID-19 must remain in their home or another residential location for 10 days from the beginning of the illness or 10 days from the date of a positive test if the person shows no symptoms. After the 10-day period, a person must be fever-free for at least 24 hours before leaving isolation. Infected persons should limit exposure to household contacts by staying in a specific room away from others in the home, and no visitors should be allowed in the home.
So far, there have been no reports concerning violations of Dr. Dobbs’s order. While there is no doubt that COVID-19 can be life-threatening, what remains to be seen is whether Mississippi prosecutors will attempt to prosecute these violations as a misdemeanor or a felony.