COVID-19 Task Force Will Monitor Virus in Jackson, Decide School Closings | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

COVID-19 Task Force Will Monitor Virus in Jackson, Decide School Closings

Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba announced the creation of a COVID-19 task force on March 12 to monitor the progress of the novel coronavirus in the capital city. Photo by Nick Judin

Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba announced the creation of a COVID-19 task force on March 12 to monitor the progress of the novel coronavirus in the capital city. Photo by Nick Judin

The capital city will have its own COVID-19 task force composed of city officials, public-health experts as well as institutional partners in the capital city's health-care system, Mayor Chokwe A. Lumumba announced at a press conference in City Hall this afternoon.

The task force includes Merit Health, one of the Jackson metro's largest private hospitals; Jackson State University's School of Health Sciences; Dr. Timothy M. Quinn, an area family medicine practitioner affiliated with Merit Health River Oaks and St. Dominic-Jackson Memorial Hospital; and Jackson Public Schools Superintendent Errick L. Greene.

Part of the task force's responsibility will be to monitor the progress of the virus in Mississippi, and to determine if and when the City of Jackson's public schools should suspend classes. COVID-19 has not been particularly virulent among children, but Lumumba assured the gathered press that both he and his team would be vigilant.

The Mississippi Department of Health announced the first confirmed case of COVID-19, a novel coronavirus, in Forrest County Wednesday night. The man infected is believed to have contracted the virus on a trip to Florida and is now safely in isolation.

Lumumba reiterated the guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and the Mississippi Department of Health.

"We are a community known for our warmth," the mayor said, but cautioned that typical southern physical affection must be temporarily suspended to prevent the spread of COVID-19, which primarily travels from person to person through close proximity, coughing and sneezing, and the touching of unclean surfaces.

Earlier today, MSDH reported that it had tested a total of 42 potentially infected Mississippians. All but the man from Forrest County tested negative. City of Jackson Communications Director Candice Cole confirmed that no positive tests for COVID-19 in Jackson were yet reported. However, the small number of tested individuals means residents should still exercise extreme caution.

The Jackson Free Press asked Lumumba if supplies would be available for elderly and at-risk residents who might not be able to leave their homes. Lumumba warned that "supplies are not necessarily abundant nationwide" and declined to give more information, suggesting that inaccurate information could potentially be dangerous.

The MSDH website, healthyms.com, provides additional information on the virus in Mississippi and effective preventative measures for all residents.

Read the JFP's coverage of COVID-19 at jacksonfreepress.com/covid19. Get more details on preventive measures here. And read about announced closings and delays in Mississippi here. Read MEMA's press release on 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.

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