October 19, 2020

‘Too many cases for us all to feel comfortable’ with opening schools, state health officer says

Mississippi State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said he and other health leaders are concerned about opening schools while the COVID-19 coronavirus is spreading so rapidly.

“Right now, there are too many cases for us to all feel comfortable,” he said. “There’s too much transmission in the community.”

Dobbs said at the current levels, schools are likely to open with lots of infected children in classrooms.

“When we open up schools, if we’re not careful, a dozen, two dozen kids walking through the door are going to be contagious the day that school starts, at every school,” he said. “And there’s nothing you can do about it because that’s what’s going on in the community.”

Dobbs’ warning came Monday during a news conference on the state’s efforts to quell the virus.

His comments came two days after two large groups of state doctors have called for delays in the state’s opening of schools.

Dobbs said Mississippians hold the power to help local school districts and parents open schools more safely by wearing face masks and socially distancing.

“It’s really important for us to take this opportunity right now,” he said. “The incubation period for the virus is such that if we really knuckle down for a couple of weeks and really let our communities have a breather so that there’s not so much transmission going on and so our kids are not getting infected, it’s going to make it so much safer for kids to go to school.”

“The number we have right now is not a comfortable number,” he said. “We all just need to buckle down and beat this thing back, and it’s easy to do.”