State health officials, frustrated by what they see as a failure among many Mississippians to adhere to social distancing guidelines, gave a stern warning about the rise in COVID-19 cases Thursday. 

"This reckless social behavior is going to harm the whole state," said State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs. "I'm absolutely terrified that we're going to overwhelm the health care system." 

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The warnings came after the Mississippi State Department of Health reported the highest daily increase in COVID-19 cases Thursday, 1,092, surpassing a record set Tuesday, 611. 

The new cases bring the state's total to 24,516.

“The reality is that these 1,000 cases are not tied to any one particular event," said State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers. "They’re not tied to one particular county. We are seeing community transmission throughout Mississippi.”

MSDH reported five additional deaths Thursday, for a total of 1,016 deaths statewide. 

The agency said cases are rising fastest among young adults who are failing to take proper safeguards.

“If we’re not careful, Mississippi’s going to look like New York at the height of the pandemic,” Dobbs said.

He said people should not attribute the increased cases to testing. 

In Lauderdale County, the health department confirmed eight new cases of COVID-19, for a total of 864, and 78 total deaths. 

The health department confirmed 193 cases and 22 deaths in Clarke County, 170 cases and 13 deaths in Kemper County, 922 cases and 63 deaths in Neshoba County and 325 cases and eight deaths in Newton County. 

Currently, there are 526 Mississippians hospitalized with confirmed COVID-19 infection and 219 hospitalized with suspected infection, MSDH said.


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