Severe COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to rise as total hospitalizations level out, in spite of an increasingly high death rate across the state of Mississippi. Photo courtesy MSDH
Mississippi hit a tragic new milestone in the ongoing coronavirus pandemic this week: Its 241 reports of COVID-19 fatalities from the previous seven days have been the deadliest per capita of any state in the U.S., the New York Times reports. Between July 29 and Aug. 4, the Mississippi State Department of Health has reported 241 deaths, the majority from outside the state’s long-term care facilities.
In previous months, LTCs like nursing homes were the source of the majority of deaths from COVID-19. MSDH also announced a recent change to LTC outbreak tracking: now, facilities with one staff member infected will no longer be counted as outbreaks. Any facilities with an infected resident or multiple infected staff member will still be counted as an outbreak. Under the new metrics, 173 of the state’s 211 LTCs are experiencing coronavirus outbreaks.
No significant decrease in hospitalizations has materialized alongside the unprecedented death toll. Total hospitalizations have remained stable over the last two weeks, with 970 Mississippians currently hospitalized with confirmed cases of COVID-19. An additional 209 people are suspected to have the virus. But the severity of those in the state’s hospitals has continued to rise with 329 intensive-care unit hospitalizations and 192 COVID-19 patients on ventilators representing the worst numbers so far.
Immediately before press time, MSDH announced 956 new cases of COVID-19 and 21 additional deaths. Updated information on hospitalizations and other metrics are not presently available.
Meantime, Mississippi braces for the upcoming school year after the governor issued a variety of new orders ahead of the beginning of the semester for many counties. Despite the loud and unified warnings from the state’s top health-care leadership, including State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs, Gov. Tate Reeves elected on Tuesday to delay the school year for only eight counties: Bolivar, Coahoma, Forrest, George, Hinds, Panola, Sunflower, and Washington.
Some districts on that list, including Jackson Public Schools, have already delayed or transitioned to virtual learning, meaning the order applies to a small fraction of the state’s student population.
Reeves also issued an order mandating statewide mask usage in public for the next two weeks. The governor had previously issued mask orders on a per-county basis.
For his part, Dobbs issued a mandatory quarantine order for anyone diagnosed with COVID-19. The 14-day quarantine order applies to anyone diagnosed with COVID-19 whether they show symptoms or not, under penalty of fine and/or imprisonment.
In Jackson, Mayor Chokwe A. Lumumba issued a city-wide curfew for Aug. 6-10. The curfew, which took effect at midnight this morning, restricts movement in the City of Jackson between midnight and 5 a.m., except for emergency services and those commuting to or from essential businesses.
Read the JFP’s coverage of COVID-19 at jacksonfreepress.com/covid19. Get more details on preventive measures here. Email state reporter Nick Judin at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @nickjudin.