UPDATE: 32 Deaths From COVID-19 Reported In One Day As State Reopens | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

UPDATE: 32 Deaths From COVID-19 Reported In One Day As State Reopens

The Mississippi State Department of Health announced 32 Mississippians have succumbed to complications from COVID-19 as of Monday, a shocking new peak in single-day deaths. Photo courtesy MSDH

The Mississippi State Department of Health announced 32 Mississippians have succumbed to complications from COVID-19 as of Monday, a shocking new peak in single-day deaths. Photo courtesy MSDH

UPDATE: At today's daily COVID-19 press conference, State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs released new information on today's 32 new reports of COVID-19 fatalities. Dobbs explained that 18 of those deaths are new casualties, while the remaining 14 are the result of investigations into previously unreported deaths. The revised single-day total of 18 is still the highest death toll since the beginning of the crisis. Dobbs agreed to a request from the Jackson Free Press to specify this breakdown in the future.

Thirty-two more Mississippians have died as a result of COVID-19, the largest single-day report of deaths in the crisis so far. No additional information accompanied this striking new number of casualties, as it did Friday when the Mississippi State Department of Health’s report indicated that some of that day’s 20 deaths were post-mortem confirmations of earlier COVID-19 casualties.

The largest single-day total prior to today was 14, reported April 21. Today’s deaths are accompanied by 330 new reports of COVID-19 across the state, the third day since Friday of more than 300 new cases of coronavirus in MSDH’s reports. The new statewide total is 8,207.

Restaurants Can Reopen Dining Rooms Thursday

On Thursday, Mississippians can again dine in at the state’s restaurants, gather in groups of up to 20 for outdoor sports, and visit the parks and other outside recreational areas. Gov. Tate Reeves released an executive order relaxing those restrictions for the remainder of his safer-at-home order, which is scheduled to expire in less than one week on May 11.

Stipulations for the restaurants planning to open dine-in services include masks for all servers, screenings for visible symptoms of COVID-19 for all customers and a maximum of 50% service capacity. “Carry-out and drive-thru are great, if you have a drive-thru window. Most family-owned restaurants are not so lucky, and their staff have been amongst the hardest hit,” Reeves said at daily COVID-19 update yesterday.

Barbershops and salons, however, will not be opening as the safer-at-home order expires, due to the difficulty of social distancing in those outlets. Reeves expressed his desire to disburse financial relief to Mississippians working in those industries. “I've instructed my team to come up with a plan to get some stabilization money out to salons and barbers from the CARES Act funds. It won't be enough to make up for all of the pain you have suffered. It's not a replacement for your ability to earn a living. It's just something I can do to help keep you stable,” he said Monday.

Reeves: Legislature “Threatens” Relief Plans

The governor then shifted his tone, suggesting that relief may be predicated on the Legislature abandoning its claims to appropriations authority over the CARES Act funds. “I do want to say that plans such as that are threatened by the reckless action of the Mississippi Legislature in a hastily called meeting late on Friday afternoon,” Reeves said.

The move to further reopen the state came immediately after the Mississippi State Department of Health announced 327 new cases of COVID-19, now the third-highest increase in single-day reports so far. The highest-ever increase came last Friday, with 397 new reports in what Reeves referred to as a “data dump” from a number of out-of-state labs. The interceding days showed a slump in new cases, down to a recent low of 109 on Sunday.

Reeves suggested that excessive reliance on the number of cases on any given day was “selective use of data,” saying that new cases may have more to do with increased testing than with increased spread.

“We have averaged over the last four days, somewhere between 250 and 270 cases. That has been pretty consistent over the last 10 days or so, in terms of the total number of cases,” Reeves said.

Yesterday, LouAnn Woodward, vice chancellor at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, tweeted that “[t]he numbers of COVID-19 positive patients, hospitalizations, and deaths are increasing. We have not hit our peak. We are not on the other side of this.” The rising average totals reported each day increasingly bear out Woodward’s estimation.

State intern Julian Mills contributed to this report.

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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