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Reeves puts seven more counties under mask mandates



Gov. Tate Reeves providing a COVID-19 update from home Nov. 12 (image from video screen capture)

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves announced Monday that seven additional counties have qualified to be under more restrictive conditions due to rising COVID-19 cases.

The conditions, listed under his “Safe Recovery” executive order in effect through Dec. 11, include wearing masks in almost all public places.

Counties added to the list Monday are Hinds, Madison, Pontotoc, Tate, Winston, Itawamba and Montgomery. Added to the 15 counties already under more restrictive conditions, Mississippi now has 22 of its 82 counties included in the executive order.

“Let’s keep fighting COVID. Let’s protect ourselves and protect our neighbors,” Reeves said in a statement. “Let’s also keep praying. I believe if we work together, we can make a difference. We can slow the spread and bridge the gap between now and when this vaccine becomes readily available and protect the integrity of our health care system.”

The seven-day average of new cases in Mississippi is currently over 1,000. The state is part of a nationwide surge that is averaging more than 150,000 new cases daily from coast to coast.

Two vaccines have recently shown great promise in early testing. Neither is expected to be available to the general public until the spring of 2021.

The governor and his family are self-isolating after his youngest daughter tested positive for the virus.


Mayor taking the gloves off on businesses not complying with COVID-19 regulations



Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs Jr. in Dec. 4 press conference. (photo via video screen grab)

Mayor George Flaggs Jr. is taking off the gloves when it comes to COVID-19 in Vicksburg.

In response to the rising numbers of COVID-19 cases in Warren County, Flaggs announced Friday that any business not conforming to the city’s COVID-19 restrictions will be cited and fined. If the business continues to flout the law, the city will turn off its utilities. This new, tougher restriction goes into effect at noon Saturday, Dec. 6.

The seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases rose to more than 20 per day Friday with 46 cases reported. The average is four times higher than where it was a month ago.

“The mitigation of this disease is too important,” Flaggs said, his voice rising with emotion. He said that continuing the trend will land Warren County on the governor’s hot spot list.

“We will not compromise, and we will not negotiate,” the Mayor added.

Flaggs said that most businesses in Vicksburg are complying to the city’s orders, but a few continue to ignore them.

“We’re not going to let one business disrupt the economy of Vicksburg by not wanting to do what you should be doing,” he said.

Summary of the new order:
Read the complete supplemental order

In addition to the regulations effective Dec. 2, 2020:

  1. All persons are required to wear a face covering, both indoors and outdoors, at group/social gatherings if social distancing (6 feet apart from persons who are not household members) is not or cannot be practiced.
  2. Group/social gathering temperature checks – before entering a group/social gathering, inside or outside, of more than 20 people, the host or other designated responsible person must check the temperature of all persons requesting entrance. If a person’s temperature is higher than 100.4°, the person must not be allowed to enter the group/social gathering. Examples of a group/social gathering are a private party, house party, wedding, wedding reception, wedding or baby shower, sporting event, funeral, worship service or other social event. The host or other designated responsible person must also keep a list of persons attending the gathering and contact information for contact tracing if needed.
  3. Restaurants and bars – businesses that sell alcohol for consumption on its premises or businesses that allow consumption of alcohol on its premises must check the temperature of every employee and patron before entrance. If a person’s temperature is above 100.4°, the person must not be allowed to enter the premises.
  4. The Block Party scheduled for Downtown Vicksburg Friday, Dec. 4, 2020, is canceled and all future Block Parties are canceled until further notice.

Violation of this EMERGENCY PROCLAMATION will be subject to misdemeanor prosecution pursuant to Sec. 45-17-9 of the Mississippi Code of 1972, as amended, Sec. 33-15-7 and Sec. 1-9 of the Code of Ordinances of the City of Vicksburg, including a fine of up to $1,000.00 and 90 days in jail.

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First Friday block party canceled



(Image courtesy City of Vicksburg)

The City of Vicksburg First Friday block party scheduled for tonight has been canceled.

“[We] canceled due to the increase in COVID-19 numbers,” said Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs Jr. “The city shouldn’t be involved in increasing the numbers.”

Flaggs also announced that he will be adding a new restriction to those already in place in Vicksburg because of the rising numbers. Friday, the Mississippi State Department of Health announced 46 new COVID-19 cases in Warren County, the third-highest one-day increase since the start of the crises in March.

“Due to one of our largest increases in reported COVID-19 cases, I plan to move forward with an additional restriction in Vicksburg immediately,” Flaggs said in a news release.

“This decision, and every decision, I’ve made since the beginning of this pandemic has been geared toward saving lives and mitigating the spread of this virus,” the mayor added.

Flaggs is holding a live news conference today, Friday, at 4 p.m. in the Robert M. Walker Building Board Room. The event will be streamed live on the Vicksburg Daily News Facebook page.

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New COVID-19 cases spike in Warren County on the third day of 2,000+ cases in Mississippi



There is little good news Friday regarding the latest surge in COVID-19 across the nation.

New COVID-19 cases are seeing a spike Friday in Warren County with 46 cases reported. This is the highest number of cases since early August, and the third highest one-day count since the crises began.

Mississippi is reporting a third consecutive day of more than 2,000 new COVID-19 cases Friday, the 10th consecutive day of reporting more than 1,000 cases. The state’s seven-day average of new cases is now nearing 1,900 per day, with 13,129 new cases reported in the last week. The highest seven-day average in July was around 1,360 for the week ending July 30.

Hospitalizations are nearing the July high of around 1,250. Unlike the July surge, however, more patients are hospitalized with confirmed cases than ever before in the state.

Nationally, the cumulative cases in the U.S. have soared to top 14 million. At least 2,857 people died of the virus Thursday and 216,548 new cases were reported. While some progress in lowering case numbers had been seen in the Midwest recently, cases continue to surge almost everywhere else in the country. The number of people hospitalized across the nation now exceeds 100,000.

In Warren County, the Mississippi State Department of Health reported 46 new COVID-19 cases Friday — the highest number since Aug. 8 when 56 cases were reported — and one new death. The cumulative number of cases in Warren County to date is 1,895, and the county’s death toll is 59. The seven-day average of new cases in the county has risen to 20.3, about four times higher than in early November.

Statewide, MSDH reported 2,480 new COVID-19 cases Friday, bringing the total cumulative confirmed cases in Mississippi to 161,516. The seven-day average of new cases is 1,875.6 per day, about 1,211 cases higher — nearly triple — than the seven-day average a month ago, when the state’s numbers were already on the rise. The current averages exceed the numbers seen at the height of the last surge in July.

At the beginning of the crises, the age group with the most COVID-19 cases were those over 65. Now, most new cases are seen in younger people who are more likely to survive the virus than those 65 and older. In September, the age group reporting the most cases in Mississippi were 18 to 24 years old. That has shifted to a slightly older group. In November, the age group reporting the most cases in Mississippi are from 25 to 39 years old followed by those 50 to 64 years old.

MSDH reported Friday that 37 more Mississippians died of COVID-19 statewide. The cumulative number of deaths in the state is 3,916. The state’s rate of deaths to confirmed cases is about 2.5%. This rate has dropped as the number of cases are going up faster than the number of deaths at this time.

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 in Mississippi was 67 reported Aug. 25.

Of the 37 deaths MSDH reported Friday, 23 occurred between Nov. 26 and Dec. 3 in the following counties:

County Deaths reported Friday
Attala 1
Alcorn 1
Attala 1
Bolivar 1
Clarke 1
Copiah 1
Covington 1
Greene 1
Harrison 1
Jackson 3
Lauderdale 2
Leflore 1
Madison 1
Neshoba 2
Perry 1
Prentiss 1
Rankin 2
Simpson 1
Warren 1

An additional 14 COVID-19 related deaths occurred from Nov. 10 to Nov. 29 and were identified from death certificate reports.

County Deaths identified from death certificate reports
Attala 1
George 1
Hinds 2
Jefferson Davis 1
Kemper 1
Lafayette 1
Lee 1
Lowndes 1
Madison 1
Oktibbeha 1
Panola 1
Prentiss 1
Sunflower 1
Yazoo 1

New cases and deaths were reported to MSDH as of 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 3. 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 tripled by late July.

Hospitalizations then steadily dropped through Oct. 3 when they began rising again along with increased cases. The last week in October, hospitalizations began levelling off; however, since Nov. 4 hospitals have seen a steady rise in COVID-19 patients once again.

The number of Mississippians hospitalized for the virus as of 6 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 2, was 1,135, about 97% of the late July peak of about 1,200. The number includes 1,052 with confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 108 people with suspected but unconfirmed cases. Of those with confirmed infections, 277 were critically ill and in intensive care units and 137 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 128,746 through Sunday, Nov. 29. It represents about 80% of the cumulative 161,516 cases reported as of Friday, Dec. 4.

The number of cases in Warren County three weeks ago, Friday, Nov. 13, was 1,638, therefore the estimated number of people presumed recovered in the county is 1,579, or about 83.3% of the 1,895 cumulative cases reported as of Friday, Dec. 4. The county has an estimated 257 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, Nov. 28, is 1,315,279 or about 44.2% of the state’s 2.976 million residents. MSDH reports statewide test results once a week. Without daily updated numbers of tests, it is impossible to accurately calculate Mississippi’s positivity rate (positive results to tests, seven-day average); however, the estimated rate was 24.9% Thursday, according to Johns Hopkins University. The national rate is 10.7%, and 5% or lower indicates adequate testing.

The total number of outbreaks in long-term care facilities is 194 Friday, an increase of six since Thursday. About 37.6%, or 1,474, of the state’s total deaths were people in long-term care facilities. The cumulative number of COVID-19 cases in LTC facilities is 7,928, less than 5% of the state’s total cases.

A total of 27 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 by provider here. The latest data available is for the week ending Nov. 22.

For additional information, visit the MSDH website.

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