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No new information in Lincoln County’s coronavirus numbers

State officials are still reporting just four positive cases of COVID-19 in Lincoln County even while two more deaths from the coronavirus were made public Wednesday.

Lincoln County Emergency Manager Clifford Galey said he’s hopeful that with social distancing, self-quarantines and much hand washing, the county is doing its part to flatten the curve and keep the numbers of infections down.

However, he points out that testing results take three to five days at minimum to be returned and there are more than 120 tests submitted that haven’t been processed.

“The number (of cases) looks great and I’m hoping that it stays the same, but that could possibly change overnight quickly,” he said.

Mississippi reported its second and third confirmed deaths from the coronavirus on Wednesday, although testing remains so limited in the state that it’s unclear whether the outbreak has caused other deaths without being identified as the reason. The state Health Department said one was a Holmes County man who was 60-65 years old, and the other was a Webster County man who was 65-70 years old. The department said both men had underlying health conditions and died while hospitalized. It did not provide other details. Both counties are rural.

The Health Department said Wednesday that Mississippi had at least 377 confirmed cases as of Tuesday evening. The first death was a Hancock County man with underlying health conditions who died last week in a Louisiana hospital. Because testing remains limited, most people now spreading the highly contagious virus may not know that they’ve been infected.

“We knew that more deaths would be inevitable, just as we expect numerous new cases. It is a very sad update to report, regardless,” said MSDH State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs, MD, MPH. “Please do your part by practicing all preventive measures. It is vitally important that we all do what we can right now to help slow the spread of this virus.”

Preventive measures Mississippians can take include the following:

Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly, especially after coughing or sneezing, blowing your nose, and using the bathroom. Effective handwashing takes about 20 seconds, and includes cleaning under fingernails, between fingers, and washing the back of hands as well as the front.

Stay home if you are sick and avoid close contact with anyone who is ill.

Cover your coughs and sneezes. When possible, cough, sneeze or blow your nose into a tissue, and throw the tissue away.

If you are sick, especially with shortness of breath, severe cough, fever or severe chest pain, call a doctor or healthcare provider for instructions on being safely examined.

Avoid social gatherings where 10 people or more would come into close contact.

Practice social distancing: stay at least six feet apart from others in a group.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks, and the overwhelming majority of people recover. But severe cases can need respirators to survive, and with infections spreading exponentially, hospitals across the country are either bracing for a coming wave of patients, or already struggling to keep up.

Some Mississippi cities and counties are setting curfews and other restrictions tighter than the ones ordered statewide by Gov. Tate Reeves. Clarksdale, Greenwood, Hattiesburg, Jackson, Meridian, Oxford, Port Gibson and Tupelo are among the cities where officials have told people not to congregate in large groups. Adams County has set a nighttime curfew.

Reeves’ order tells people to stop visiting hospitals, nursing homes or long-term care facilities that house those most vulnerable to becoming sick. An exception is for visiting people receiving “imminent end-of-life care.”

Reeves said Tuesday that he wants businesses to allow “every possible employee” to work from home. His order lists several types of businesses that should remain open because they are considered essential.

For more information on prevention measures and the latest guidance, download the free MS Ready mobile app or visit HealthyMS.com/covid-19.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.