Gov. Reeves Says Virus At ‘Plateau’; State Reports Most Deaths in Single Day | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Gov. Reeves Says Virus At ‘Plateau’; State Reports Most Deaths in Single Day

The Mississippi State Department of Health announced 14 new deaths from COVID-19, the deadliest day in the crisis thus far, bringing the statewide total to 183. Gov. Tate Reeves said at an April 20 press briefing that infections have reached their “plateau” in Mississippi. Photo courtesy MSDH

The Mississippi State Department of Health announced 14 new deaths from COVID-19, the deadliest day in the crisis thus far, bringing the statewide total to 183. Gov. Tate Reeves said at an April 20 press briefing that infections have reached their “plateau” in Mississippi. Photo courtesy MSDH

Gov. Tate Reeves described the recent uptick in cases of COVID-19 in Mississippi as a “plateau,” suggesting that Mississippians should expect a continuing trend of high numbers in before new infections level off and decline.

Today, the Mississippi State Department of Health that 14 more Mississippians have succumbed to complications of COVID-19, the state’s largest single-day death total in the crisis thus far. Mississippi’s total casualty rate is now 183. MSDH reported 204 new cases of COVID-19 for Monday, April 20, by 6 p.m. for 4,716 cases statewide since the first report on March 11.

“What we have seen is a peak that is ... not nearly as high or nearly as steep, but it's also probably a plateau, more so than a steep peak,” the governor said in his media briefing Monday afternoon. “And so that's why you're continuing to see more increases in cases and the number of cases on a daily basis.”

Lauderdale, Nursing Homes Are Hotspots

Hinds County continues to lead the state in raw case total, with 357 total cases of the virus, for a reported infection rate of .15%, although Lauderdale County remains the hardest-hit county in the state per capita. Its current infections stand at 232, just over twice the rate of Hinds County’s reported spread adjusted per capita. Deaths in Lauderdale County bear out this outsized impact: its 17 reported fatalities are the most of any county in Mississippi.

Lauderdale County was the source of Reeves’ initial shelter-in-place order on April 1. Public-health officials warned of outbreaks in the county’s long-term-care facilities when Reeves initially issued a shelter-in-place order just for that county the day before he expanded it to the entire state. Just as no county presently has as high a death toll as Lauderdale County, no county’s care facilities and nursing homes are as heavily affected.

MSDH lists nine facilities with confirmed COVID-19 outbreaks in Lauderdale County; in Hinds, only six facilities are affected.

Gender, Racial Disparities Hold Steady

Both the gender and racial disparities in reported cases of COVID-19 have held steady through what is purported to be the virus’ plateau in Mississippi. Women comprise 60% of all known cases of COVID-19, a trend at odds with many other nations, which found more infections and significantly more deaths occurring in men than in women.

MSDH reports over 51% of its COVID-19 detections come from the state’s black population. COVID-19 deaths display an even greater disparity: 64% of fatalities derive from that same demographic, meaning both infections and casualties far outstrip the state’s 37% black population. MSDH has increasingly released relevant demographic data, acknowledging that the crisis is disproportionately affecting people of color.

Thus far, MSDH has yet to release racial demographic data divided by county, and as of yet has not provided breakdowns of testing penetration divided up by race, meaning unexamined disparities in the state’s detection system may yet exist.

Read the JFP’s coverage of COVID-19 at jacksonfreepress.com/covid19. Get more details on preventive measures here. Read about announced closings and delays in Mississippi here. Read MEMA’s advice for a COVID-19 preparedness kit here.

Email information about closings and other vital related logistical details to [email protected].

Email state reporter Nick Judin, who is covering COVID-19 in Mississippi, at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @nickjudin. Seyma Bayram is covering the outbreak inside the capital city and in the criminal-justice system. Email her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @seymabayram0.

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