State Health Officer concerned about rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations

AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis

Mississippi State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs answers a reporter's question at Gov. Tate Reeves' coronavirus news briefing on Aug. 4.

State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs is expressing concern about a potential rise in COVID-19 cases.  

“I do think we’re on the front end of something that could be bad,” he said at a press briefing Monday.

Dobbs said the department is seeing increasing hospitalizations in the state, and six major hospitals in Mississippi have no available ICU capacity. He added that the state is seeng an increasing proportion of people with COVID-19-like illness.

“It’s a good time for us to start preparing for increasing cases and increasing hospitalizations over the next several weeks,” he said.

He encouraged people to follow CDC guidelines on Halloween and to have more “modest plans” on the holiday.

“It’s very okay to not do a traditional trick or treating scenario anyway, because we know the risk is out there, especially for kids who live with people who might be in a vulnerable age group or vulnerable, with chronic medical conditions," he said.

Dobbs also announced that free, rapid testing will start at community testing sites this week in Jackson and in some northeastern counties.

“This is our first implementation of using the rapid tests that we received from the federal government,” he said.

He anticipates that rapid testing will expand to other counties next week.

He added that the state will be providing surgical masks that have a face shield attached to them for people with certain medical conditions and people 65 or older, so that it is safer for them to vote. They will be available at drive-thru testing locations.

Dobbs recommended wearing a mask, staying at least six feet away from other people, avoiding large gatherings and practicing hand hygiene. He also encouraged people to get the flu shot.

The Mississippi State Department of Health reported 296 COVID-19 cases but no new deaths on Monday. 

No new cases or new deaths were reported in Lauderdale County, where 2228 cases and 128 related deaths have been reported since the state began tracking the virus in March.

In Newton County, one new case was reported, bringing the total to 820. No new deaths were reported; 27 deaths have been reported since March. 

In Kemper County, one new case was reported, bringing the total to 308 cases. No new deaths were reported; 15 deaths have been reported since March. 

Clarke County reported 13 new cases, bringing the total to 647 cases. No new deaths were reported; 48 deaths have been reported since March. 

In Neshoba County, 10 new cases were reported, bringing the case total to 1727 cases. No new deaths were reported but 109 deaths have been reported since March.

The state totals increased on Monday to 105,228 cases and 3,101 deaths since March.

The Department of Health presumes 90,577 people have recovered from COVID-19.

There are 126 ongoing outbreaks of COVID-19 in long-term-care facilities.

The city of Meridian’s mask mandate remains in effect through the end of October.

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