September 20, 2020

Coronavirus in Mississippi schools: Here’s what we know

More than 200 teachers, staff and students in Mississippi schools were found to have the COVID-19 coronavirus last week, the state reported Wednesday.

“We have made some improvement, there’s no doubt,” Mississippi State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said Wednesday. “(But) we are facing a monumental challenge with schools and now colleges.”

Officials with the Mississippi Department of Health said they’re working to get detailed school reporting of the virus setup for public dissemination.

Last week, from August 10 through 14, Dobbs said 84 new cases in school staff members were reported and 132 new cases in students were reported.

The number of total quarantined school staff members totaled 328 and 1,970 students.

“Some schools will have to close temporarily,” he said. “It’s inevitable so just be prepared for that.”

Dobbs said despite the recent drops in new cases the state is still at great risk if people choose not to follow basic guidelines such as wearing face masks, staying six feet apart and avoiding groups of people.

“I’m worried,” Dobbs said. “It’s nothing bad (causing the virus’ spread), it’s riding in the car with friends, it’s going to dinner to with friends.

“It’s easy to beat COVID, but we’ve chosen not to do it,” he said. “We have just chosen not to accept that as something we are willing to give up.”

Dobbs said Mississippians should not be fooled into thinking the recent lower numbers of cases means the battle against the virus is over.

He said the average numbers are improved, however.

“It’s still not great. It’s not even good, but it’s better,” Dobbs said.