At an April 2 press conference, Mississippi Emergency Management Agency Director Col. Greg Michel (pictured) joined Gov. Tate Reeves, and State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs to address the public with an update on the state response to the virus. Photo courtesy State of Mississippi
Mississippi saw its biggest increase in novel coronavirus cases in a single 24-hour period today with 181 new cases and 3 deaths for a total of 29. The Mississippi State Department of Health is reporting 1,358 Mississippians diagnosed with COVID-19 as of April 2. That means that Mississippi’s curve continued to rise the day before Gov. Tate Reeves’ statewide shelter-in-place order takes effect, which begins officially at 5 p.m. today. Yesterday, MSDH reported 104 new detections.
MSDH is now providing limited information about outbreaks of COVID-19 in the state’s long-term care facilities, which includes nursing homes. Twenty-eight Mississippi counties have reported outbreaks in their long-term care facilities, which State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said days earlier that his agency would not name for privacy reasons.
Dobbs assured the press that the State of Mississippi is warning directly affected individuals, and some nursing facilities have already publicly released information confirming outbreaks in their patients or staff. Lauderdale County, which includes Meridian, reports three outbreaks among its long-term care facilities, stated as a key motivation for Reeves’ initial shelter at home for that county specifically from earlier this week. Lauderdale has three confirmed COVID-19 deaths as of today.
Only four of Mississippi’s 82 counties have no detected cases of the novel coronavirus: Issaquena, Jefferson Davis, Stone and Greene County. Hinds County continues to lead the state in reported cases of COVID-19, with 139, with DeSoto County now back in second place with 111.
At a press conference yesterday, Gov. Reeves amended his previous estimates of the total number of tests performed in Mississippi to date. “I underestimated how many tests the private labs have done,” Reeves said. “We are now projecting that we have seen 16,662 total tests in Mississippi."
Reeves suggested this testing rate puts Mississippi at roughly 5,300 to 5,400 tests per million residents, ahead of estimations of the total testing per capita of MSDH’s model case, South Korea, [ LINK https://www.jacksonfreepress.com/news/2020/apr/01/covid-19-can-mississippi-imitate-south-korea/ ] at the time of their flattening of the COVID-19 curve. Because of the epidemiological differences between the densely populated, peninsular nation and the comparatively diffuse state of Mississippi, it is hard to gauge if the much earlier timing of South Korea’s massive testing regime will meaningfully alter the outcome of MSDH’s strategy.
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Mississippi Emergency Management Agency Director Col. Greg Michel addressed the State’s request of personal protective equipment, or PPE, from the federal stockpile. Reeves said previously that the state was receiving “some, but not all” of the PPE it had requested. Michel said the State would initially distribute PPE to “tier 1” recipients, meaning long-term care facilities in danger of widespread outbreak among heavily at-risk patient populations. Counties and first responders, the MEMA chief added, were next on the list of recipients.