Rankin, 10 Other Counties Join List of 80 Cases of COVID-19 in State, One Dead | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Rankin, 10 Other Counties Join List of 80 Cases of COVID-19 in State, One Dead

Earlier in the day, Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education, addressed schooling plans for the long quarantine ahead.

Earlier in the day, Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education, addressed schooling plans for the long quarantine ahead.

This morning, The Mississippi State Department of Health added 30 new cases to its daily roster of COVID-19 cases in the state, considered “presumptive” until the Centers for Disease Control confirms the positive tests. Eleven new counties joined the list of 80 cases, including three in Rankin County, two more in Madison County and one more in Hinds County in the Jackson metro area. Adams, Franklin, Humphreys, Lafayette, Lawrence, Lee, Marshall, Pike, Rankin, Tippah and Webster counties all detected their first cases of the virus, and Harrison County has the most cases so far at eight, followed by Hinds, Pearl River and Leflore counties with seven each.

MSDH says that 775 people were tested to date in the MSDH Public Health Laboratory.

The City of Jackson announced this morning that it will announce 12 testing sites in the capital city this afternoon.

Yesterday, MSDH announced the first fatality from the COVID-19 crisis. A 60- to 65-year-old man from Hancock County died while receiving treatment in an unidentified Louisiana hospital. MSDH indicated in a press release that the man suffered from underlying conditions, placing him among the ranks of the highly susceptible that the novel coronavirus is known to more severely affect.

“Elee and I are praying for all their loved ones and their community as we all deal with this tragic loss,” Gov. Tate Reeves said in a statement.

The Mississippi man, whose name has not been released, represents one of the 50 reported cases in the state. In a statement, MSDH State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs offered his condolences. “My heart goes out to this gentleman’s wife and family,” Dobbs said. “Many people will survive this virus with mild to severe symptoms, but we remain very concerned for those over 65 and immunocompromised populations—those most at risk to infection from this virus.”

Previously, state officials declined to close schools as spring break neared its end. Jackson area private schools, including Jackson Academy, St. Joseph, Jackson Prep, St. Richard and New Summit School remain closed through next week, with many beginning distance learning programs.

Prior to the announcement, the Mississippi State Board of Education voted to suspend this year’s federal and state testing assessments in light of the derailed school calendar. “We’re hoping that today for a release from the United States Department of Education,” Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education, said during a March 19 teleconference.

Assessments will carry over from the last full school year. “If you were an A last year, you’re an A this year,” Wright said. During the school closures, Wright encouraged parents to engage their children educationally. “Children need and want schedules. They want a routine. I would encourage parents to establish a routine every day— that includes play,” she advised.

For now, districts are individually handing out enrichment activities for the beginning of the extended quarantine period. Over the long term, Wright said the role of the State of Mississippi would be to help guide the development of distance-based curricula. Some of those options are already available.

“We’ve already got an approved list of vendors that we know are aligned to our standards. Anybody can already choose from the list of our vendors,” Wright told the Jackson Free Press.

Beyond that, “the state (Board of Education) chair Jason Dean today announced that he would form a task force and bring in business from out of state to see what this would look like, and what form it would take,” Wright said. But school districts are likely to have latitude to determine what form of distance learning they make available to their students as the lockdown continues.

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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