Mississippi ‘can’t open schools right now,’ Harvard doctor says, citing high COVID-19 spread

Published 6:34 am Monday, August 3, 2020

A Harvard Medical School professor said Mississippi “can’t open schools right now,” because the rising numbers of COVID-19 coronavirus cases in the state will cause schools to quickly shut down again.

Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, made the warning Saturday on Twitter.

He studies COVID-19 numbers from every state and said he sees Mississippi headed in the wrong direction.

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“One state doing VERY badly but has received little attention is Mississippi,” Jha wrote. “MS has the 2nd highest # of new cases / capita, just behind Florida — but MS is going up while FL is slowly inching down.

“But the story here is much worse.”

Jha wrote that he’s very worried about the high number of Mississipi tests that are coming back positive, citing that the numbers of tests being administered is down, but the numbers of positives tests is up.

“So that means test positivity is up,” Jha wrote. “Way up. Actually highest in the nation at 22%.”

“Mississippi will become nation’s #1 in new cases/pop, Already #1 on test +”

Jha said the problem is “much of Mississippi remains open — bars, restaurants are open with only modest limits.

“Many schools are struggling to figure out how to open soon,” he wrote. “Can’t open schools now. They’ll just shut down.”

“If MS wants kids in school, recipe known: Stop indoor dining/bars/gyms; Statewide masking; Fix testing,” he wrote. “Then, maybe, kids can go to school safely.”

Jha’s comments come just days after a deadline for Mississippi schools to submit their reopening plans to the state. Gov. Tate Reeves says he’s reviewing the plans. He’s the only person who can postpone the reopening of schools across the state, though several local districts have already announced such delays.

In the Corinth Schoo District, which opened last Monday, a case of student with COVID-19 was reported on Friday.