One week after returning the mask and distancing mandate to nine Mississippi counties, Gov. Tate Reeves has expanded that order to cover seven new counties. Photo courtesy State of Mississippi
As COVID-19 continues to grow in Mississippi and across the nation, Gov. Tate Reeves has expanded the number of counties under a mask and social-distancing order. As of today, residents of Benton, Carroll, Harrison, Jones, Leake, Madison and Marshall counties are now mandated to wear masks in public, indoor settings. The order also prohibits gatherings of more than 10 people indoors and 50 people outdoors for those counties.
“We need to find a way to deal with this that never returns to the economic lockdowns of the past. We need a sustainable plan. We believe that localized efforts to bring intense focus to those hardest-hit areas will have the greatest impact,” Reeves said at an Oct. 26 press event.
The order is still in effect in Desoto, Jackson, Lee, Forrest, Lamar, Chickasaw, Claiborne, Itawamba and Neshoba counties, where the first signs of the new spike in Mississippi appeared.
Today, the Mississippi State Department of Health reported 854 new cases of COVID-19. Twenty additional Mississippians have died as a result of COVID-19 complications.
State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs was on hand at yesterday’s press event to update the state on weekend spread of COVID-19. “Today, we're reporting 675 new cases from over the weekend: 228 from Saturday and 447 from Sunday,” he said. Those numbers are higher than the traditionally low weekend slumps.
More concerning were Friday’s numbers, when the Mississippi State Department of Health announced 1,212 new cases of COVID-19. The current seven-day rolling average of COVID-19 cases is 756.
Dobbs also provided an update on hospital capacity. “There are 580 COVID patients confirmed in the hospital, with 157 in intensive care and 66 on ventilators. This is relatively stable,” he said. But there are already signs of stress on some of the state’s largest hospitals. “If we look at ICU capacity, there are six hospitals in the state that do not have ICU beds.” Dobbs confirmed that the Jackson metro area currently has three ICU beds available.
Finally, the state health officer encouraged Mississippians to have a safe Halloween by observing infection-control standards: staying out of large groups, remaining socially distanced from others, staying outdoors and wearing masks.
“The same rules apply: if you're wearing a mask, and you're outdoors, and you're separated from people, you're going to be a lot safer. If you’re touching candy, please use hand sanitizer—wash your hands with the extreme frequency,” Dobbs warned.
“If you're going to trick or treat, please do it safely.”
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.