August 6, 2020

State says don’t let Monday’s low coronavirus number fool you, it’s a weekend blip, they say

Monday’s relatively low number of new COVID-19 coronavirus cases is likely a weekend blip, not a trend, the state’s top health official said Monday.

Mississippi State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said the numbers, only 393 new cases vs. a trailing 7-day average of more than 700 per day, should not cause people to think trends are improving and let their guards down.

“That likely represents a weekend reporting drop,” Dobbs said. “I wouldn’t count on this beingĀ  a trend.”

He said the most recent data suggests massive community spread likely occurred on or around July 4.

“If you look back at the data over the past several weeks about date of onset, when people first became ill. you’ll notice that on July 8, we had by far the largest number people reporting they were ill at 1,071,” he said. “Not coincidentally that’s exactly four days from July 4 and the weekend and the incubation period is four to five days.

“So we are certainly very concerned that we’re going to see ongoing cases related to holiday festivities,” he said.

Dobbs said several myths are being circulated that he and other health experts seek to quell.

“One person is one case … If we test someone 20 times, the same person is going to be just one case,” he said, adding that many people think if a single person is tested multiple times, it falsely drives up cases.

Others, he said, believe that tests to determine if a person has been exposed to the virus, an antibody test, are also falsely increasing the total number of tests.

“Are we driving up our case counts with the antibody test?” Dobbs asked. “Absolutely not.”

The number of positive antibody tests, he said, was less than 285 were from antibody test and it was only people that had a positive antibody test and had symptoms consistent with coronavirus or contact with someone who had the virus.

Gov. Tate Reeves said the notion of herd immunity, which many people have suggested needs to occur, is not a viable strategy. He pointed out the math of it, suggesting to truly reach levels of herd immunity, more than 1 million Mississippians would need to get the virus and hospitals are already overwhelmed with the current case count of 36,680.

Dobbs said four hospitals in the Jackson area have no ICU beds available. Statewide, he said, eight hospitals had no ICU beds available.

Dobbs and Reeves continue to urge Mississippians to wear face masks and socially distance.

Reeves said people shaming one another for either wearing a mask or not wearing a mask is not helpful.

“Every Mississippian has to get it through their own head that this (wearing masks) is the right thing to do,” Reeves said. “Now is the time, if you go in the public, wear a mask.”