Coronavirus Update - April 16, 2020
Can an employee refuse to return to work because they can draw more in unemployment benefits than they earn in wages?
We have been asked about a situation where an employer offers employees the opportunity to come back to work but they refuse on the grounds that they can make more money drawing unemployment right now.
We would advise anyone who has a mind to do this to not do this.
It seems to be very clear under Mississippi law that a refusal to return to work under these circumstances would be deemed a failure to return to work without good cause. This would disqualify a worker from receiving unemployment benefits under Mississippi law and would cause them to lose the federal benefits also, which require them to be able and available to work. The Department of Labor has actually characterized it as fraud in recent UIPL guidance.
Drive-in Church Services Can Continue
Many of you may have seen that the town of Greenville attempted to prevent a church from engaging in drive-in church services.
As we have discussed before, such services are acceptable as long as people adhere to the health and safety regulations issued by the Department of Health and the CDC. By all accounts, the church was doing exactly that.
Nevertheless, the city sent policemen to the church to hand out $500 tickets in the parking lot while people were worshipping in their cars.
This is clearly unacceptable and a violation of the constitutional right to the freedom of worship.
The church took legal action and the city backed down.
As we have said many times, drive-in church services are perfectly acceptable as long as the social distancing guidelines are observed.
I want to commend the churches around this state who continue to meet and who voluntarily respect the wishes of the Department of Health to observe social distancing guidelines during this crisis. They are clearly acting out of consideration and love for their neighbor by doing this.
I also want to commend the city mayors and other leaders who are respecting the rights of their citizens to worship and allowing churches to meet within the guidelines and are not trying to stop worship.
It appears this action in Greenville was nothing more than a misguided political stunt by the mayor.
Yesterday the State Forester sent a letter to the Governor asking that the burn ban be lifted.
I am led to believe the Governor will honor his request and lift the burn ban immediately. Watch for this development in the next couple of days.
Money for Airports
The federal government announced yesterday that certain airports around Mississippi will receive grants to help alleviate the decline in revenue they have experienced as a result of flights being canceled due to the coronavirus epidemic.
The grants are as follows:
Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport, Gulfport – $20,929,795
Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport, Jackson – $8,561,630
Golden Triangle Regional Airport, Columbus – $1,190,282
Key Field, Meridian – $1,079,543
Tupelo Regional Airport, Tupelo – $1,055,781
Other airports receiving grants were: Aberdeen ($30,000), Belmont ($20,000), Booneville ($20,000), Corinth ($30,000), Holly Springs ($20,000), Iuka ($30,000), New Albany ($30,000), Okolona ($30,000), Oxford ($69,000), Pontotoc ($30,000), Ripley ($20,000), Starkville ($69,000), Water Valley ($1,000) and West Point ($20,000).
Update on number of cases.
264 new cases reported yesterday.
Total cases statewide now number 3,624.
Unfortunately, we now have 129 deaths.
65 outbreaks in long-term care facilities
Counties that reported a death today:
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