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COVID-19

Doctor says Merit Health River Region is ready for COVID-19

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Dr. Carlos Latorre, far right, waits for his turn at the mic on Sunday, March 29. Vicksburg Fire Chief Craig Danczyk and Police Chief Milton Moore are on the left behind Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs Jr. at the podium. (Photo by Thomas Parker)

Mississippi Medicaid Director and Vicksburg family practitioner Dr. Carlos Latorre believes Merit Health is ready for COVID-19.

“Our hospitals are doing well,” Latorre said Sunday during a press conference with Vicksburg and Warren County officials. “We have enough beds, enough staff and enough ventilators.”

Latorre, who also serves on Mississippi’s COVID-19 task force, said about 20 percent of COVID-19 patients will be hospitalized, and 3 to 5 percent will not recover from the virus. Out of the 847 cases reported to date in Mississippi, 195 have required hospitalization, or 23 percent, according to the Mississippi State Department of Health website.

Normally, when health professionals place a patient on a ventilator, they stay on the breathing device for two to four days, the doctor said. For severe cases of COVID-19, which frequently presents as pneumonia in both lungs, patients are staying on ventilators for two weeks straight and some even longer.

“I think Merit Health is ready,” Latorre said. “Vicksburg is a hub for our area. Port Gibson, Issaquena County, Rolling Fork—if people get sick, and they need a higher level of care their facilities can’t provide, they come to Merit Health, and we don’t see that changing.”

With four testing sites in Vicksburg, Latorre said health-care professionals have tested over 100 individuals and two have come back positive.

The first known case in Warren County was an inmate who tested positive for COVID-19 last Thursday. Latorre said that the county where a person is tested is not necessarily where the case is counted. That particular case was added to Rankin County’s total as that is the inmate’s permanent address.

Warren County does, however, have a a confirmed case: A 45-year-old woman who likely contracted the virus when she recently visited New Orleans.

Vicksburg Fire/EMS transported the woman to the hospital.

“Once we got confirmation the 45-year-old female did test positive, we monitored our staff closely for symptoms,” Fire Chief Craig Danczyk said, “and that worked and was very positive. And most of that is because of the precautions we are taking to keep our equipment and workstations sanitized.”

Danczyk said he has canceled vacations for Vicksburg’s first responders to ensure the community is well served during the pandemic.

John Elfer, Warren County Emergency Management director, said he has worked closely with the Mississippi State Department of Health and other state officials to bring drive-through free testing to Vicksburg. As a result, the University of Mississippi Medical Center and MSDH is hosting a one-day testing clinic on Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Latorre believes Warren County will see an increase in COVID-19 numbers due the availability of free testing, but getting quick results could be an issue.

“We are having tests that are not coming back as quickly as we would like,” Latorre said. “Some are taking seven to nine days for us to get the results.”

Waiting that long can be challenging and stressful for health professionals and for patients waiting to learn the results.

Above all else, Latorre, Danczyk and Elfer urge people to stay indoors if they have the ability to do so.

“The majority of the population has complied” with social-distancing recommendations, Danzyck said. “I see a limited number of cars on the road. I think the public has responded positively to the measures taken.”

Danczyk reminded the public to only call 911 if it is an emergency. Warren County E-911 has had an increased number of callers during the pandemic. He also asked callers to be be patient with the dispatcher, as they are instructed to ask questions regarding COVID-19 symptoms before dispatching emergency personnel.

COVID-19

Vicksburg Warren School District reports four new COVID-19 cases

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The Vicksburg Warren School District is reporting four new COVID-19 cases for the week of Oct. 19 through Oct. 23, 2020.

Additionally, 22 students, teachers and staff are under new quarantines due to possible exposure in the same time period.

The following schools reported new cases and quarantines:

Academy of Innovation
1 new positive case – student
5 quarantined – students

Bowmar Avenue Elementary
2 new positive cases – teacher/staff
1 quarantined – teacher/staff
13 quarantined – students

River City Early College
1 quarantined – student

Warren Central Intermediate School
1 new positive case – teacher/staff
1 quarantined teacher/staff

Central Office Staff 
1 new quarantined – staff

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COVID-19

Ridgeland High football and basketball teams quarantined

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The Madison County School District has ordered the Ridgeland High School football team to quarantine due to three positive COVID-19 tests.

The Titans will quarantine at home for 14 days, which means they will not play Friday. The team was scheduled to play Holmes County Central Friday for their last game of the regular season, but the game has been canceled giving the Holmes Jaguars a big district forfeit win.

The team ends the season with a 6-2 record, only losing one district game due to Friday’s forfeit to the Jaguars. They will likely head into the playoffs after the quarantine.

The Titans boy’s basketball team has also been ordered to suspend practice and quarantine and will not be able continue practice until the end of the two week period.

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COVID-19

COVID-19 continues surging nationwide; 854 new cases in Mississippi Tuesday

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With the beginning of what most now see as a fall surge in COVID-19 cases, nearly a half-million Americans were diagnosed with the virus in the past week. New outbreaks have been reported in every region of the country, but the rural midwest has been hit especially hard. Nationally, the seven-day average is nearly 70,000 new cases per day, the highest since the start of the crisis.

In Mississippi, Gov. Tate Reeves has put 16 counties under more restrictive COVID-19 measures including mandating masks in nearly all indoor spaces other than polling places.

The Mississippi State Department of Health reported nine new COVID-19 cases Tuesday in Warren County and no new deaths. The cumulative number of cases in Warren County to date is 1,560, and the county’s death toll is 56.

Statewide, MSDH reported 854 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday, bringing the total cumulative confirmed cases in Mississippi to 116,617. The seven-day average of new cases is 756, higher by 257 cases — about a third — 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 Tuesday that 20 additional Mississippians died of COVID-19 statewide. The cumulative number of deaths in the state is 3,283. 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.

Of the 20 deaths MSDH reported Tuesday, 19 occurred between Oct. 22 and Oct. 26 in the following counties:

County Deaths reported Tuesday
Benton 2
Calhoun 1
Clarke 2
Clay 1
Covington 2
Itawamba 1
Jackson 2
Lee 2
Leflore 1
Lincoln 2
Marshall 1
Oktibbeha 1
Sharkey 1

One additional COVID-19 death occurred Sept. 21 in Hinds County and was identified from a death certificate report.

New cases and deaths were reported to MSDH as of 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 26. 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 rising since then with a flattening this past week.

The number of Mississippians hospitalized for the virus as of 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 26, is 678, more than half of the late July peak of about 1,200. The number includes 572 with confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 106 people with suspected but unconfirmed cases. Of those with confirmed infections, 159 were critically ill and in intensive care units and 63 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 86.9% of the cumulative 116,617 cases reported as of Tuesday, Oct. 27.

The number of cases in Warren County three weeks ago, Tuesday, Oct. 6, was 1,438, therefore the estimated number of people presumed recovered in the county is 1,382, or about 88.6% of the 1,560 cumulative cases reported as of Tuesday, Oct. 27. The county has an estimated 122 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. 10 (the latest testing results reported by MSDH), is 900,479 or about 30.3% 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 16.6% Thursday, Oct. 22, 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 Tuesday. About 40%, or 1,304, 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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