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Lincoln County COVID-19 update: State health officer says virus, precautions ‘not a joke’

The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus COVID-19 in Lincoln County rose from 384 Tuesday to 413 on Thursday, though the increase is not as dramatic as statewide increases.

Tuesday, the Mississippi Department of Health reported 611 new confirmed cases of the virus, the state’s highest one-day number yet. But Thursday’s report topped that number by more than 400 when MSDH announced 1,092 new cases of coronavirus. Friday, 550 more cases were reported.

State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs warned in a press conference Thursday afternoon that each day would show more increases if people were not going to take social distancing and mask wearing seriously.

“If we’re not careful, Mississippi is going to look like New York at the height of the pandemic,” Dobbs said. “We can stick our head in the sand and try to find excuses so that we don’t have to modify our behaviors, but it doesn’t change the truth. The truth is, there’s a lot of COVID out there, it’s killing people, it’s going to kill a lot of people and it’s going to stress out our healthcare system.”

In Lincoln County, the death toll remains at 32, though the state’s total has risen from 989 Tuesday to 1,022 as of Friday.

There have been 111 confirmed LTC facility cases — one additional since Tuesday — and the total of 25 deaths remains unchanged.

One week ago, Mississippi recorded its highest number to date of COVID-19-related hospitalizations since the beginning of the coronavirus’ spread to the state. At 516, the number reached what many hoped would be its peak. Wednesday saw that number climb to 536, however. Friday’s report showed 533 in hospitals.

Dobbs said he did not think the new cases were caused by the state reopening businesses, parks and venues too quickly, but by individuals’ lack of concern for safety guidelines.

State Epidemiologist Paul Byers said many of the new cases came about from younger asymptomatic people transmitting the virus to older relatives after attending large social gatherings.

“There have been lots of parties where 300-plus people are getting together and they’re close,” he said at Thursday’s press conference. “We can’t act surprised that we’re seeing these types of increases in cases.”

Byers stressed the only way to avoid things getting worse is for people to “start with a vengeance” protecting themselves and others by avoiding large groups, wearing masks and being cautious.

Gov. Tate Reeves supported these statements on Twitter later Thursday, writing, “Please listen. We’ve been beating this drum for months. Dr. Dobbs is graphic in his warnings to us about where this heads. If people just follow current orders and aren’t reckless, we can beat this.”

Nationwide, numbers are climbing again, as well. While expanded testing accounts for some of the numbers now being reported, experts say other measures indicate the coronavirus is resurging.

“It’s not a joke,” Dobbs said at the briefing. “Really bad things are going to happen.”

Both MSDH and KDMC offer testing for the virus. Anyone who wishes to be tested at an MSDH center must complete a prescreening through the department’s smartphone apps or by calling 877-978-6453.

Anyone who wants to be tested by KDMC should call 601-835-9455 prior to visiting the hospital’s testing site, located behind the emergency room.