Rampant spread of COVID-19 and increasingly dire hospitalizations have prompted Gov. Tate Reeves to extend his “Safe Return” order by two weeks, and add 10 counties to the list of those under mandatory mask and social-distancing requirements. Photo courtesy State of Mississippi
After a week of unprecedented spread of coronavirus across Mississippi, Gov. Tate Reeves has extended Mississippi’s “Safe Return” period by two weeks and heightened restrictions for individuals and businesses in 10 additional counties across Mississippi. The new orders cover slightly less than half the counties included in the White House Coronavirus Task Force’s list of “red zone” counties.
“COVID-19 is spreading and killing in our state. It is not a hypothetical, it is happening. Today, I’ve extended our executive orders to mitigate the threat—adding 10 counties to the list of those with stricter measures in place,” Reeves tweeted, promising to discuss the matter further at the scheduled press conference.
Bolivar, Covington, Forrest, Humphreys, Panola, Sharkey, Simpson, Tallahatchie, Tate and Walthall counties join Hinds, Rankin, Madison, Claiborne, DeSoto, Grenada, Harrison, Jackson, Jefferson, Quitman, Sunflower, Washington and Wayne counties on the governor’s list of coronavirus hotspots under additional restrictions.
“Take precaution,” Reeves warned today. “Wear masks!”
Residents in these counties must wear masks in public at all times and avoid gatherings of more than 10 people indoors and 20 people outdoors. Additional requirements for businesses and individuals are listed in the order, which is scheduled to last until Aug 3.
Read breaking coverage of COVID-19 in Mississippi, plus safety tips, cancellations, more in the JFP's archive.
The Mississippi State Department of Health reported 1,251 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, in what has traditionally been a low-volume day for new cases. Sunday showed 792 new reports of COVID-19, on the heels of four consecutive days of more than 1,000 cases. Saturday’s report included 142 long-term-care facility outbreaks, currently the highest extent of the virus in the state’s vulnerable care facilities since the virus’ arrival in Mississippi.
With Monday’s all-time record, the rolling seven-day average of new coronavirus cases is 1,029, cresting above 1,000 only weeks before in-person teaching is slated to begin at colleges and schools across Mississippi.
Over the weekend, the Mississippi State Department of Health released additional data on the hospitalization impact of COVID-19. Hospitalization numbers peaked across the board Monday with 909 total confirmed hospitalizations, 284 of which are in ICU beds, 143 of which are on ventilators. Those numbers represent a staggering spike from the end of June.
MSDH’s hospital capacity report, updated this morning for Sunday shows a near doubling of ICU beds in use by COVID-19 patients over the course of July, revealing the difficulty hospitals have had with victims of the virus crowding out other individuals needing hospital treatment.
District 5, which includes Hinds, Rankin and Madison counties, as well as the state’s only Level 1 Trauma center, shows the most outsized effects of the virus: virtually no open ICU beds are open in the district. A critical shortage of Level 1 Med/Surg beds is also visible in the data. The previous month’s rapid increase in COVID-19 patients has nearly doubled the virus’ utilization of Med/Surg beds.
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.