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A deeper dive into Mississippi’s COVID-19 surge

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(Image by Felipe Esquivel Reed, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=87846813)

Similar to many states in the U.S., Mississippi is experiencing a surge in new COVID-19 cases.

The record new case counts have translated into record numbers of people hospitalized, putting a severe strain on the state’s health care system. Thursday, Mississippi’s five largest hospitals reported they had no ICU beds available to anyone, whether to COVID-19 patients or patients suffering any of a myriad of life-threatening conditions, from heart attacks to car crashes.

As a result, Gov. Tate Reeves increased restrictions on 13 counties, and State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs put out an order for hospitals to postpone elective surgeries until July 20.

Testing for COVID-19 has increased across the state, but the important metric to note is that the percentage of positive results has also increased, clearly showing an increasing number of infections in the state. In other words, the percentage of positive results going down would indicate fewer relative infections.

It’s also important to note that the bulk of new cases are being seen in younger people, especially those between 18 and 29. While healthy people in this age group are far more likely to survive the virus, they can still pass it on to older and sicker individuals.

The seven-day average of new cases for the week ending July 11 is 678, down from 734 for the previous week.

COVID -19 in long-term care facilities

Many of the new cases and deaths in Mississippi are reflected in cases and deaths in the state’s long-term care facilities. But, while only about 8.4% of the state’s cases are in LTC facilities, 48.2% of the state’s deaths from the virus are people from long-term care facilities. The number of individual COVID-19 cases in long-term care facilities total 2,959 July 11. Resident deaths total 593. The number of active outbreaks under investigation is 106.

Lauderdale County in East Central Mississippi leads the state with the highest number of cases and deaths in long-term care facilities with 202 cases and 52 deaths Saturday. It also has among the highest total COVID-19 cases and the highest number of deaths reported in the state with 963 cases and 81 deaths as of Saturday.

Nine counties — Lauderdale, Leflore, Jones, Hinds, Madison, Oktibbeha, Lincoln, Monroe and Neshoba —have 100 or more LTC cases. Eighteen counties have more than 20 LTC deaths.

Mississippi is paying special attention to any outbreaks in these facilities. Even one case is a long-term care facility is considered an outbreak because of the ages and poor health of many residents. Long-term care facilities include nursing homes, personal care homes, assisted living facilities and intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Cases in long-term acute care facilities, and psychiatric or chemical dependency residential treatment centers are now being counted separately.

COVID-19 in Mississippi counties

For months, Issaquena County was the lone spot in the state that had not been touched by the virus. That ended June 25 when Issaquena reported two cases. By Saturday, July 11, the county was reporting 10 cases and one death.

In Warren County, the rise since June 1 has been precipitous. On May 31, Warren reported 173 cases and 10 deaths. In June Warren more than doubled its case count, adding more than 252 cases and seven more deaths. After 11 days in July, the county has added another 169 cases — almost as many as the entire month of June — and four deaths, bringing the total of confirmed cumulative cases to 594 and deaths to 21.

In two weeks, neighboring Hinds County, the state’s virus epicenter, added more than 1,000 cases and 15 deaths. As of July 11, Hinds is reporting 2,908 cases and 51 deaths. Seventeen of the deaths in Hinds were residents in long-term care facilities, and 151 cases in long-term care facilities are under investigation.

In other neighboring counties, Yazoo County reports 553 cases Saturday and six deaths. Yazoo is reporting 20 cases under investigation and two deaths in long-term care facilities.

Claiborne County has also seen a precipitous rise of new cases since June 1. On July 11, the county reports 301 cases, 90 of which have been reported in the past two weeks. Claiborne reports 11 deaths Saturday, eight of which were residents in a long-term care facility. A total of 43 cases in a long-term care facility are under investigation. Claiborne County Senior Care was the site of eight resident deaths; however, the facility is no longer under investigation as of July 9

Sharkey County has reported 33 new cases in two weeks, more than doubling the number of cases from 22 cases to 48. So far, Sharkey has not reported any deaths and only one outbreak in a long-term care facilities.

Only two counties report no deaths from the virus: Benton and Sharkey. The highest county death toll in the state is 81 deaths in Lauderdale County, which also leads the state in long-term care facility cases and deaths; 52 of the deaths in Lauderdale were people in long-term care facilities.

The following 45 counties report 10 or more deaths:

County Total Cases Total Deaths
Adams 351 20
Attala 384 24
Bolivar 405 18
Carroll 181 11
Chickasaw 297 19
Claiborne 301 11
Clarke 223 25
Clay 258 11
Copiah 653 15
Desoto 1900 19
Forrest 993 43
Greene 113 10
Hancock 144 13
Harrison 1136 16
Hinds 2908 51
Holmes 586 41
Humphreys 163 10
Jackson 775 19
Jones 1203 49
Kemper 184 14
Lauderdale 963 81
Leake 635 20
Lee 612 22
Leflore 531 56
Lincoln 529 35
Lowndes 548 13
Madison 1446 38
Marion 327 12
Monroe 456 35
Neshoba 1045 77
Newton 375 10
Oktibbeha 611 28
Pearl River 288 32
Pike 499 20
Rankin 1087 15
Scott 819 15
Smith 246 12
Tate 352 13
Tippah 145 11
Union 252 11
Warren 594 21
Washington 722 13
Wayne 562 18
Webster 134 11
Winston 295 11

Nine counties were added to this list in the past two weeks.

COVID-19 Demographics: race, gender and age

Cases and deaths from the virus are heavily skewed toward African Americans, and MSDH is reporting racial breakdowns of each county’s statistics, available on its website. As of July 11, 57.3%. of cases (14,668) and 51.7% of COVID-19 deaths (592) in Mississippi were among African Americans.

COVID-19 cases are also skewed toward women, with 57.8% of cases among women.

Almost all the COVID-19 deaths in Mississippi occurred among people with underlying health conditions, including high blood pressure, obesity, lung disease and diabetes. The health of African Americans is contributing to their higher rate of infection and death from COVID-19.

All age groups have been affected by the disease, including children under 18, with 3,297 cumulative cases as of July 11, including 246 cases in infants less than 1 year old. Forty-three young people have been hospitalized with the virus, but no deaths among juveniles have been reported in Mississippi.

New cases are being reported most frequently among those 18 to 29, with more than 7,400 cumulative cases. With more than 5,000 cases each, those from 30 to 39, 40-49 and 50-59 are also reporting far more cases than other age groups.

Deaths and hospitalizations from the virus occur most frequently among those 60 and older. As of July 11, 2,101 of Mississippi’s cumulative 3,495 hospitalizations, or 60.1%, were among people over 60, and 84% of the state’s deaths (1,034) have been people over 60.

Data source: MSDH

Hospitalizations

The primary metric concerning state health officials are the numbers of people hospitalized, and that number has been steadily rising with new cases. This week, health officials warned repeatedly that some hospitals were running out of ICU beds.

The number of Mississippians hospitalized for the virus as of 6 p.m. Friday, July 10, is 909. The number includes 703 with confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 260 people with suspected but unconfirmed cases. Of those with confirmed infections, 202 were critically ill and in intensive care units and 107 were on ventilators.

Mississippi’s rate of hospitalizations for those diagnosed with COVID-19 is at 12.2% as of July 11, with another 17.9% categorized as “unknown.”

The national average for hospitalizations has seen a steady rise and stands at 107.2 per 100,000 for the week ending July 10, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; however, the rate skyrockets to 316.9 per 100,000 for those 65 and older.

Testing

The number of COVID-19 tests performed in Mississippi as of July 10 is 334,029. About 10.6% of the tests had a positive result based on the total number of confirmed cases in the state. That percentage has risen by about 2 percentage points in the last two weeks.

As more asymptomatic people are tested, the actual rate of infection will become clear. As of July 10, Mississippi has tested about 10.6% of the state’s 3.15 million people.

Another 13,123 antibody tests were performed in the state. MSDH has not provided any outcomes for these tests.

Anyone with symptoms of fever, severe cough or severe chest pains – especially those who are older or in poor health – should arrange for testing with their doctor or one of the many health care providers now performing testing, although not having a fever may not eliminate you from being tested. Health care providers can assess your health history and symptoms and perform testing for COVID-19 as needed. MSDH is also helping conduct free drive-up testing sites in many parts of the state. Always call ahead to the testing provider for instructions on safely being examined before you visit for your test.

Find a COVID-19 testing provider near you

For more information, visit the MSDH website or call the hotline at 877-978-6453, available seven days a week from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.

COVID-19

New COVID-19 cases in Mississippi top 1,000 again Friday; 25 new cases in Warren County

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New COVID-19 cases reported Friday in Mississippi topped 1,000 for the second consecutive day. As Mississippi found out this summer, as new cases rise, so do hospitalizations, and both have been rising steadily since the beginning of October. The state’s seven-day average is nearly at 800.

Mississippi isn’t alone in seeing cases rise. As a whole, the nation is seeing a 25% rise in new case seven-day averages, WJTV reported Thursday, with New Mexico, Vermont, New Hampshire, Montana and Connecticut leading the way. Only two states, Hawaii and Maine, have seen drops in new cases in the past week.

The Mississippi State Department of Health reported 25 new COVID-19 cases Friday in Warren County — the highest single-day count since August — and no new deaths. The cumulative number of cases in Warren County to date is 1,511, and the county’s death toll is 54.

Statewide, MSDH reported 1,116 new COVID-19 cases Friday, bringing the total cumulative confirmed cases in Mississippi to 109,255. The seven-day average of new cases is 796, higher by 306 cases from a month ago.

Most new cases are seen in younger people recently, and they are more likely to survive the virus than those 65 and older. By far, the age group reporting the most cases in Mississippi are young people from 18 to 29 years old.

MSDH reported Friday that nine additional Mississippians died of COVID-19 statewide. The cumulative number of deaths in the state is 3,160. The state’s rate of deaths to confirmed cases is about 2.9%.

Deaths are a lagging indicator. While July saw the highest number of new cases since the crisis began, August saw the highest number of deaths. The highest number of deaths in any one day was 67 reported Aug. 25.

MSDH reported Friday that deaths occurred between Oct. 3 and Oct. 15 in the following counties:

County Deaths reported Friday
Coahoma 1
Copiah 1
Harrison 1
Jackson 1
Lauderdale 1
Leflore 2
Lowndes 1
Wilkinson 1

New cases and deaths were reported to MSDH as of 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 15. MSDH usually reports statistics on the COVID-19 coronavirus each day based on the previous day’s testing and death reports.

The primary metric concerning state health officials are the numbers of people hospitalized, and that number rose steadily with the rise of new cases in July and August. On June 6, the number of Mississippians hospitalized with confirmed cases of COVID-19 was at 358. Hospitalizations nearly tripled by late July. They leveled off in early August and began noticeably dropping in the middle of the month including critical cases and numbers of people requiring ventilators. Hospitalizations continued to drop in September but levelled off at the middle of the month. They dropped again through Oct. 3; however, hospitalizations have been showing a rise since then.

The number of Mississippians hospitalized for the virus as of 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 14, is 598, about half of the late July peak of more than 1,200. The number includes 481 with confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 117 people with suspected but unconfirmed cases. Of those with confirmed infections, 145 were critically ill and in intensive care units and 72 were on ventilators.

Source: MSDH

MSDH has estimated the number of people who can be presumed recovered from COVID-19 in Mississippi. That number is 94,165 through Sunday, Oct. 11. This figure is updated weekly. It represents about 86.2% of the cumulative 109,255 cases reported Friday, Oct. 16.

The number of cases in Warren County three weeks ago, Friday, Sept. 25, was 1,405, therefore the estimated number of people presumed recovered in the county is 1,351, or about 89.4% of the 1,511 cumulative cases reported as of Friday, Oct. 16. The county has an estimated 106 active cases.

These estimates are based on MSDH’s guidelines for calculating estimated recoveries when hospitalizations are not known, using the number of cases 21 days ago, less known outcomes (deaths).

The total number of Mississippians tested for COVID-19 (PCR and antigen tests identifying current infections) as of Thursday, Oct. 15, is 900,479 or about 30.3% of the state’s 2.976 million residents. The positivity rate (positive results to tests, seven-day average) was 6.3% Sunday according to Johns Hopkins University. The national rate is 5.2%, and 5% or lower indicates adequate testing.

The total number of outbreaks in long-term care facilities is 128 Friday. About 40.3%, or 1,275, of the state’s total deaths were people in long-term care facilities.

A total of 25 deaths in Warren County were residents of LTC facilities.

MSDH is no longer reporting outbreaks in individual long-term care facilities in Mississippi and has replaced it with access to a database from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. You can access and search the data here. The latest data available is for the week ending Sept. 27.

For additional information, visit the MSDH website.

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New COVID-19 cases in MS top 1,000 Thursday for the first time in nearly two months

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New COVID-19 cases reported in Mississippi topped 1,000 for the first time in nearly two months. The last time the state reported more than 1,000 cases on any one day was Aug. 19. As new cases rise, so do hospitalizations, and both have been rising steadily since the beginning of October.

The Mississippi State Department of Health reported five new COVID-19 cases Thursday in Warren County and no new deaths. The cumulative number of cases in Warren County to date is 1,486, and the county’s death toll is 54.

Statewide, MSDH reported 1,322 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, bringing the total cumulative confirmed cases in Mississippi to 108,139. The seven-day average of new cases is 760, higher by 311 cases from a month ago.

Most new cases are seen in younger people recently, and they are more likely to survive the virus than those 65 and older. By far, the age group reporting the most cases in Mississippi are young people from 18 to 29 years old.

MSDH reported Thursday that 12 additional Mississippians died of COVID-19 statewide. The cumulative number of deaths in the state is 3,152. The state’s rate of deaths to confirmed cases is about 2.9%.

Deaths are a lagging indicator. While July saw the highest number of new cases since the crisis began, August saw the highest number of deaths. The highest number of deaths in any one day was 67 reported Aug. 25.

Of the 12 deaths MSDH reported Thursday, 11 occurred between Oct. 3 and Oct. 14 in the following counties:

County Deaths reported Thursday
Forrest 1
Hinds 2
Jackson 1
Lee 1
Marshall 1
Neshoba 1
Perry 1
Tippah 1
Union 1
Washington 1

One additional COVID-19 related death occurred in Washington County Aug. 23 and was identified from a death certificate report.

New cases and deaths were reported to MSDH as of 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 14. MSDH usually reports statistics on the COVID-19 coronavirus each day based on the previous day’s testing and death reports.

The primary metric concerning state health officials are the numbers of people hospitalized, and that number rose steadily with the rise of new cases in July and August. On June 6, the number of Mississippians hospitalized with confirmed cases of COVID-19 was at 358. Hospitalizations nearly tripled by late July. They leveled off in early August and began noticeably dropping in the middle of the month including critical cases and numbers of people requiring ventilators. Hospitalizations continued to drop in September but levelled off at the middle of the month. They continued to drop through Oct. 3; however, hospitalizations have been showing a definite rise since then.

The number of Mississippians hospitalized for the virus as of 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 13, is 633, about half of the late July peak of more than 1,200. The number includes 500 with confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 133 people with suspected but unconfirmed cases. Of those with confirmed infections, 143 were critically ill and in intensive care units and 72 were on ventilators.

Source: MSDH

MSDH has estimated the number of people who can be presumed recovered from COVID-19 in Mississippi. That number is 94,165 through Sunday, Oct. 11. This figure is updated weekly. It represents about 87.1% of the cumulative 108,139 cases reported Thursday, Oct. 15.

The number of cases in Warren County three weeks ago, Thursday, Sept. 24, was 1,402, therefore the estimated number of people presumed recovered in the county is 1,348, or about 90.7% of the 1,486 cumulative cases reported as of Thursday, Oct. 15. The county has an estimated 84 active cases.

These estimates are based on MSDH’s guidelines for calculating estimated recoveries when hospitalizations are not known, using the number of cases 21 days ago, less known outcomes (deaths).

The total number of Mississippians tested for COVID-19 (PCR and antigen tests identifying current infections) as of Sunday, Oct. 3 (the latest date available from MSDH), is 863,957 or about 29% of the state’s 2.976 million residents. The positivity rate (positive results to tests, seven-day average) was 6.3% Sunday according to Johns Hopkins University. The national rate is 5.1%, and 5% or lower indicates adequate testing.

The total number of outbreaks in long-term care facilities is 128 Thursday. About 40.4%, or 1,273, of the state’s total deaths were people in long-term care facilities.

A total of 25 deaths in Warren County were residents of LTC facilities.

MSDH is no longer reporting outbreaks in individual long-term care facilities in Mississippi and has replaced it with access to a database from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. You can access and search the data here. The latest data available is for the week ending Sept. 27.

For additional information, visit the MSDH website.

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COVID-19

Alabama’s coach Nick Saban and Greg Byrne test positive for COVID-19

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Nick Saban (photo courtesy UA Athletics)

University of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban and UA Athletic Director Greg Byrne have tested positive for COVID-19.

“I found out earlier this afternoon that I had tested positive for COVID-19,” Saban said Wednesday in statement from the university. “I immediately left work and isolated at home. At this time, I do not have any symptoms relative to COVID, and I have taken another PCR test to confirm my diagnosis.”

Byrne also released a statement Wednesday.

“Today, I received notice that my COVID-19 test from this morning came back positive,” Byrne said. “Upon hearing the news, I immediately entered self-isolation and will remain at home and follow all guidelines. We’ve been diligent about mask wearing and social distancing from the start and want to continue to encourage you all to take the necessary precautions to help stop the spread of this virus for yourself and those around you.”

No. 2 Alabama is set to play No. 3 Georgia Saturday. Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian will fill in as interim head coach during Saban’s absence.

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