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DNA confirms the identity of bones found near Natchez



The area known as Anna's Bottom is about 10 miles north of Natchez.

Bones discovered near Natchez, Mississippi, last month have been confirmed as those of Timothy H. Hearn.

On July 6, agents from the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks notified Adams County Coroner James Lee of a leg bone in a boot discovered in an area known as Anna’s Bottom, just north of Natchez. Lee sent the bones to the Mississippi Crime Lab for forensic analysis.

The boots were similar to a pair that belonged to Hearn, who went missing from a towboat moored near St. Joseph, Louisiana, Nov. 3, 2018. Hearn was 25 at the time of his disappearance.

Hearn’s mother, Carmen Hancock, gave a DNA sample shortly after the discovery.

In a Facebook post Monday, Hancock said she had gotten word that the bones were a match to her DNA.

It’s not clear whether an investigation is underway; however, the U.S. Coast Guard is the agency of record for the disappearance because it occurred on a waterway.



Mississippi adds another 970 new COVID-19 cases Thursday



With 970 new cases of COVID-19 reported in Mississippi Thursday, the state’s seven day average continues to creep upward toward 800. The Magnolia State is among the majority of U.S. states with rising case counts. Nationally, 81,457 cases were reported Wednesday, with the seven-day average rising 41% in the last two weeks. Deaths rose by 9% over the same period, with 1,016 deaths reported Wednesday.

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 1,566, and the county’s death toll is 56.

Statewide, MSDH reported 970 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, bringing the total cumulative confirmed cases in Mississippi to 118,587. The seven-day average of new cases is 787, higher by 270 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 eight additional Mississippians died of COVID-19 statewide. The cumulative number of deaths in the state is 3,310. The state’s rate of deaths to confirmed cases is about 2.8%.

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.

The deaths MSDH reported Thursday occurred between Oct. 23 and Oct. 27 in the following counties:

County Deaths reported Thursday
Benton 1
Chickasaw 1
George 1
Hinds 1
Itawamba 1
Marion 1
Newton 1
Panola 1

New cases and deaths were reported to MSDH as of 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 28. 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 began rising since then. They have leveled off this week.

The number of Mississippians hospitalized for the virus as of 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 27, is 666, more than half of the late July peak of about 1,200. The number includes 577 with confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 89 people with suspected but unconfirmed cases. Of those with confirmed infections, 157 were critically ill and in intensive care units and 62 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 101,385 through Sunday, Oct. 25. This figure is updated weekly. It represents about 85.5% of the cumulative 118,587 cases reported as of Thursday, Oct. 29.

The number of cases in Warren County three weeks ago, Thursday, Oct. 8, was 1,452, therefore the estimated number of people presumed recovered in the county is 1,396, or about 89.1% of the 1,566 cumulative cases reported as of Thursday, Oct. 29. The county has an estimated 114 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 Saturday, Oct. 17 (the latest testing results reported by MSDH), is 949,085 or about 31.9% of the state’s 2.976 million residents. Without an updated number of tests, it is impossible to accurately calculate Mississippi’s positivity rate (positive results to tests, seven-day average), however, the rate was 13.8% Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins University. The national rate is 6.3%, and 5% or lower indicates adequate testing.

The total number of outbreaks in long-term care facilities was 134 Thursday. About 39.8%, or 1,317, of the state’s total deaths were people in long-term care facilities.

A total of 26 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 Oct. 11.

For additional information, visit the MSDH website.

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Zeta’s path of destruction leaves two dead and millions without power



Source: NOAA / NHC

Hurricane Zeta hit the Gulf Coast Wednesday night as a Category 2 hurricane, bringing winds of up to 100 mph along with torrential rain to the already battered coast. At least two deaths have been attributed to the storm.

At 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, the eye of the storm was over New Orleans. After making landfall, the storm weakened, but remained at hurricane strength as it raced over the southern portions of Louisiana and Mississippi, leaving more than 2 million people without power.

Zeta is continuing its northeast path Thursday but has been downgraded to a tropical storm. Strong, damaging wind gusts, which could cause tree damage and power outages, will continue to spread well inland across portions of northeastern Alabama, northern Georgia, the Carolinas and southeastern Virginia Thursday. Zeta will exit over the Atlantic and dissipate Friday.

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Kroger to offer rapid COVID-19 antibody tests



(photo source: Kroger)

Kroger announced Wednesday that it will soon offer rapid COVID-19 antibody tests for $25 in its pharmacies.

Antibody tests detect whether a person has had COVID-19 in the past. They do not detect active infections. The test will be taken by a small sample of blood from the finger and results will be ready within 15 minutes.

At this time, the tests are offered in California and Michigan, but Kroger expects to have the tests in all of their pharmacies by the end of November.

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Kroger Heath has remained committed to helping people live healthier lives by offering in-clinic and at-home COVID-19 testing solutions supported by our multi-disciplinary team of licensed, trained and experienced health care providers,” said Colleen Lindholz, president of Kroger Health in a statement. “Making rapid antibody testing available across our family of pharmacies will not only provide an affordable and convenient testing solution for individuals who want to understand if they have previously been infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, but also help clinicians understand the long-term impacts of COVID-19 and potential public health strategies for fighting the disease.”

Research is still underway to determine how long antibodies are present following infection and if the presence of antibodies provides protective immunity. Regardless of the testing result, all patients should continue to practice FDA-recommended safety guidelines, including social distancing and wearing masks.

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