Mississippi governor likely to extend coronavirus restrictions today

Published 7:29 am Monday, July 20, 2020

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves says he is likely to extend the time for restrictions in counties with rapidly expanding cases of the new coronavirus, and he could add several other counties to the list.

The current restrictions started Monday in 13 of the 82 counties, and they include a requirement for masks in public and a prohibition on large gatherings.

The existing restrictions are in some of the most heavily populated counties in the state: Hinds, Madison and Rankin in the Jackson area, DeSoto County in the north and Harrison and Jackson counties on the coast. The restrictions are also in smaller counties with high rates of the virus: Claiborne, Grenada, Jefferson, Quitman, Sunflower, Washington and Wayne.

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The Republican Reeves said Friday that he is also looking “very closely” at setting the restrictions in 12 other counties: Bolivar, Covington, Forrest, Humphreys, Jones, Lamar, Panola, Simpson, Sunflower, Tallahatchie, Tate and Walthall.

Mississippi recently has had several day-to-day increases of 1,000 or more reported cases. Several hospitals have also reported having a shortage or complete lack of beds in their intensive care units.

The state health officer, Dr. Thomas Dobbs, said that on Thursday night, one Mississippi patient had to be sent to Alabama after officials were unable to find an intensive care bed in either Mississippi or Louisiana.

“Every day we add 1,000 new cases, statistically that’s another 170 patients that are going to likely be in the hospital in the next couple of weeks,” Dobbs said. “So, we anticipate significant ongoing stress within our hospital system.”

Mississippi has a population of about 3 million. The Health Department said Sunday that the state has had at least 42,638 confirmed cases and at least 1,335 deaths from the coronavirus as of Saturday evening. That was an increase of 792 cases and 10 deaths from numbers reported the day before.

At least 3,142 cases of the virus have been confirmed in long-term care facilities such as nursing homes, with at least 647 virus-related deaths in those facilities, the department said.

The true number of virus infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected without feeling sick. While most people who contract the coronavirus recover after suffering only mild to moderate symptoms, it can be deadly for older patients and those with other health problems.