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COVID-19

Follow science and use caution in re-opening after COVID-19 shut down, doctor advises

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Dr. Justin Turner (Photo courtesy Dr. Turner)

Vicksburg native Dr. Justin Turner, a member of the Mississippi coronavirus medical task force, advises that we should trust the science during this crisis and use an abundance of caution when re-opening the state to commerce.

“As a result of flattening the curve, right now we are good from a medical supply standpoint as far as beds and ventilators,” Turner said Wednesday. “Now is the time to see where we are with data.”

Citing the need for better data and contact tracing to run down the origins of the illness, Turner added that opening back up too quickly would be a mistake.

“It could be very premature, and we are asking for unnecessary loss of lives if we open things up too soon,” he said.

Turner is a 1999 graduate of Warren Central High School. He attended Jackson State University and studied medicine at Meharry Medical College in Nashville. Turner is president and CEO of Turner Care and practices medicine in South Jackson.

He expressed disappointment over recent test results for drugs that held promise for treatment of the virus.

“Some medicines, such as hydroxychloroquine, that we thought were going to be good are not having the results that we were told they would have originally,” he said.

One of the key factors in the virus data is the disproportionate amount of cases and deaths among African Americans, which is a problem across the country, not just in Mississippi. Underlying conditions that weaken the immune system make the virus more deadly for everyone, but African Americans are more likely to suffer from many of these conditions such as diabetes. Nationally, the rate of diabetes among African Americans is 11.7% and 7.5% for whites.

Turner said African Americans also face systemic and socioeconomic issues including a lack of access to health care, and they make COVID-19 much more deadly in the African American community. Not having insurance or being under insured causes patients to avoid getting adequate medical care or other needed services such as nutritional advice.

Many African Americans also have a lack of trust for the medical community, Turner said, and he cited the Tuskegee syphilis study as one reason. In that study, which ran from 1932 until 1972, researchers left hundreds of African American men untreated for syphilis so they could follow the progression of the disease. An investigation revealed that the men did not give their consent for the study, and that researchers lied to them about the “treatments” they received even after penicillin became available in 1945. Of the original 399 participants, 74 were still in the study after 40 years, and they won a $10 million lawsuit.

Citing diet and obesity, which contribute to conditions such as diabetes and heart disease, Turner said unhealthy eating is a huge problem in the state. He counsels his patients to choose what they eat wisely, challenging them to minimize red meat such as pork and beef, avoid processed foods and to cut back on other unhealthy choices.

“Seventy percent of your immune system is in your digestive system,” he said.

“Humans are the only species that drink milk from another mammal,” he added, and said soy or almond milk are preferable.

Turner also encourages people to exercise, saying not to use gym closure as an excuse not to exercise. Mental health is also important, and he advised taking breaks from social media and the news.

The steps being taken in Mississippi to fight COVID-19 are appropriate, Turner indicated.

“If we are over-reactive, we may never know,” he said, “but if we are under-reactive, we will find out soon.”

For more information on Dr. Turner, visit the Turner Care website.

To hear the complete interview, click here.

COVID-19

749 new COVID-19 cases reported Friday in Mississippi

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More than a half-million new COVID-19 cases were reported in the U.S. this past week in what is being reported as the worst week since the crises began. The 14-day average for cases saw an increase of 42% while deaths increased by 16%. Hospitalizations have exploded by 46%.

In Mississippi, the seven-day average for new cases is hovering just below 800, while hospitalizations remained fairly flat.

The Mississippi State Department of Health reported five new COVID-19 cases Friday in Warren County and no new deaths. The cumulative number of cases in Warren County to date is 1,571, and the county’s death toll is 56.

Statewide, MSDH reported 749 new COVID-19 cases Friday, bringing the total cumulative confirmed cases in Mississippi to 119,336. The seven-day average of new cases is 780, higher by 263 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 18 additional Mississippians died of COVID-19 statewide. The cumulative number of deaths in the state is 3,328. 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 18 deaths MSDH reported Friday, five occurred between Oct. 14 and Oct. 28 in the following counties:

County Deaths reported Friday
Harrison 1
Itawamba 1
Jackson 1
Simpson 1
Tippah 1

Thirteen COVID-19 related deaths occurred between July 31 and Oct. 25, identified from death certificate reports.

County Deaths identified from death certificate reports
Chickasaw 1
Copiah 1
Forrest 1
Grenada 1
Hancock 1
Harrison 1
Jackson 1
Jefferson Davis 1
Marshall 1
Monroe 1
Oktibbeha 1
Sunflower 1
Yazoo 1

New cases and deaths were reported to MSDH as of 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 29. 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. Thursday, Oct. 29, is 712, more than half of the late July peak of about 1,200. The number includes 609 with confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 103 people with suspected but unconfirmed cases. Of those with confirmed infections, 173 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 101,336 through Sunday, Oct. 25. This figure is updated weekly. It represents about 85% of the cumulative 119,336 cases reported as of Friday, Oct. 30.

The number of cases in Warren County three weeks ago, Friday, Oct. 9, was 1,459, therefore the estimated number of people presumed recovered in the county is 1,403, or about 89.3% of the 1,571 cumulative cases reported as of Friday, Oct. 30. The county has an estimated 112 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. 24 (the latest testing results reported by MSDH), is 1,002,327 or about 33.7% 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 6.9% Thursday, 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 131 Friday. About 39.3%, or 1,319, 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. 18.

For additional information, visit the MSDH website.

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COVID-19

Vicksburg mayor extends COVID-19 restrictions and mandates another month

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Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs Jr. during July 15 news conference. (Photo by Thomas Parker)

Friday, Mayor George Flaggs, Jr. extended the city’s COVID-19 restrictions and mandates for an additional 30 days.

The extension also applies to the juvenile curfew and the special crime task force previously put in place by the city.

The following is a summary of the new proclamation:

RETAIL BUSINESSES

Face Coverings are still required in the City of Vicksburg inside all retail businesses, including grocery stores, building supply stores, cigar shops, convenience stores, liquor stores, and any other store that sells items to the public. However, maximum capacity may go back to 100% as long as strict social distancing, 6 feet separation, can be ensured between persons who are not in the same household.

RESTAURANTS & BARS

Face coverings are still required of employees and customers while not eating or drinking. Maximum capacity may go back to 100 % as long as strict social distancing can be maintained between tables and parties/groups. Limit of 10 to a table. Places that sell alcohol or allow consumption of alcohol on the premises must stop serving, selling or consuming by 11 p.m. and close the business by midnight.

SALONS, BARBER SHOPS, SPAS, MASSAGE PARLORS, TATTOO PARLORS, PERSONAL GROOMING OR PET GROOMERS

Face coverings are still required of employees and customers. Maximum capacity may go back to 100% as long as strict social distancing can be maintained between customers.

GYMS & FITNESS CENTERS

Face coverings are still required and must not exceed 75% capacity. Must clean and disinfect high contact equipment and areas frequently. Hand sanitizer must be available at entrances and exits.

MOVIE THEATERS & AUDITORIUMS

Face coverings are still required and must not exceed 75% capacity. Must clean and disinfect high contact equipment and areas frequently. Hand sanitizer must be available at entrances and exits.

DANCE STUDIOS, LIBRARIES & MUSEUMS, INDOOR RECREATION & PLACES OF AMUSEMENT, OUTDOOR RECREATION & PLACES OF AMUSEMENT

Face coverings are still required indoors and may go back to 100% maximum capacity as long as strict social distancing can be maintained between persons not in the same household.

RECEPTION HALLS AND CONFERENCE CENTERS

Face coverings are still required and may go back to 100% maximum capacity as long as strict social distancing can be maintained between persons not in the same household. For seated dinners only, there shall be at least six (6) feet between tables and a maximum at ten (10) persons at each table.

IN GENERAL

  1. Face Coverings are still required in all businesses, except manufacturing businesses.
  2. Exceptions to the face covering requirement:
    1. Any individual who will not come in contact with any other individual and can maintain social distancing (6 feet apart);
    2. Any child under 8, but strongly encouraged for ages 2-7;
    3. Any individual with a medical condition that prevents wearing a face covering;
    4. Any individual who is consuming food or drinks;
    5. Any individual seeking to communicate with someone who is hearing impaired;
    6. Any individual giving a speech for broadcast or to an audience; and
    7. . Any individual temporarily removing his or her face covering for identification purposes.

GROUP GATHERINGS

All persons in public or private social gatherings/activities shall maintain social distancing of a minimum of 6 feet apart between individuals not in the same household. If indoors, a face covering is required if persons are not able to maintain a minimum of 6 feet separation.

RELIGIOUS SERVICES

Places of worship are encouraged to follow the Safe Worship Guidelines adopted May 20, 2020. Face coverings are encouraged.

Worshipers shall maintain social distancing of a minimum of 6 feet apart between individuals not in the same household.

FUNERALS

Funerals are encouraged to be grave side. May be held at Church or Funeral Home at 11 a.m. or 2 p.m. or at the City Auditorium at 11 a.m. or 2 p.m. All persons shall maintain social distancing of a minimum of 6 feet apart between individuals not in the same household. Upon proof of death due to COVID-19, the cost for the City Auditorium for the funeral shall be one-half of the regular auditorium fee.

JUVENILE CURFEW

The curfew for juveniles 17 and under will remain in place with the exceptions of traveling to or from work, being with a parent or guardian, traveling to or from a legitimate school function or organized youth sport activity.

SPECIAL LAW ENFORCEMENT TASK FORCE

The special law enforcement task force will remain in place on Thursdays through Sundays from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.

BUSINESS SCREENING AND CLEANING

Businesses shall continue to screen employees and customers and disinfect high contact areas.

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COVID-19

Mayor to hold news conference Friday on COVID-19

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Mayor George Flaggs Jr. at a news conference Oct. 8. (photo via video screen grab/Video by Thomas Parker)

 Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs Jr. will hold a news conference Friday at 2:30 p.m. in the Robert M. Walker Building Board Room regarding COVID-19.

The current proclamation expires Monday, Nov. 2 at 8 a.m.

Look for updated information and plan to watch the news conference live on the Vicksburg Daily News Facebook page.

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