Anderson Regional Medical Center is hospitalizing a patient who has tested positive with the COVID-19 virus.

The hospital confirmed the case at a 1 p.m. news conference Wednesday afternoon.

"The patient has been and continues to be under strict isolation and close observation in accordance with Mississippi Department of Health and CDC guidelines," Dr. Hatem Mourad, Anderson Regional Health System Chief of Medicine said in a statement.

Anderson Chief Medical Officer Keith Everett said in a statement: "We have prepared for this situation by following evidence based guidelines from the CDC and MS Department of Health. Our physicians, nurses and support staff are well-trained in the highly specialized care and isolation requirements for COVID-19 patients. Our efforts are focused on delivering the highest level of care possible while ensuring our staff is protected."

The hospital is testing patients who meet the criteria for COVID-19 testing, Mourad said.

"Any hospitalized patient who is symptomatic is being cared for appropriately until test results are confirmed," Mourad said.

The hospital has implemented strict visitor guidelines to protect patients and staff from exposure to the virus, Dr. William A. Billups III, chief of staff said.

"We ask for the public's understanding and adherence to these measures," Billups said. "We also strongly recommend all members of our community to comply with social distancing guidelines."

The hospital representatives declined to answer questions.

The Mississippi State Department of Health confirmed Wednesday morning a second person has died from COVID-19. 

A Holmes County man between 60-65 years old with underlying health conditions died while hospitalized, MSDH said. 

State officials previously confirmed the death of a Hancock County man in his 60s with underlying health conditions.

MSDH reported 57 new cases of COVID-19, including the first cases for Amite, Calhoun and Prentiss Counties. The state report came before Anderson's announcement about the Meridian case.

The state's total number of cases is 377 and 1,943 people have been tested. 

No cases were reported in Clarke, Kemper, and Neshoba counties in the latest state update.

A graph on the MSDH website indicates illnesses that began March 17 or later may not yet be reported. 

As of Monday, 71 percent of reported cases were not hospitalized and 60 percent of the cases were female patients, according to the state's data.

MSDH said testing providers require that you have a fever of 100.4 or greater and severe cough or chest pain to receive testing.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates. 

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