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Warren County leaders discuss county’s plan for COVID-19 on emergency call

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(photo by David Day)

The Warren County Board of Supervisors held an emergency special meeting via conference call on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the county’s plan of action for the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

Almost every local elected and appointed county official, along with department heads and other key personnel were on the call.

The need for social distancing was brought up by Board President and District 4 Supervisor Dr. Jeff Holland. Social distancing refers to keeping space between people, and examples include not attending large gatherings, working from home and limiting “visits” to electronic devices instead of person-to-person contact.

Holland and District 3 Supervisor Shawn Jackson discussed the need for the county to have one clear set of guidelines that would apply to all county employees including elected officials. Holland proposed implementing a policy that any employee exposed to someone who is ill, goes on a cruise, goes on a trip over one hundred miles or goes out of the country be subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine.

Callers discussed whether county employees would be required to use sick leave, vacation time or be given paid administrative leave when they are quarantined, or offices shut down. Supervisor Jackson vehemently opposed any policy that forces employees to burn through accrued vacation and other leave time. Legislators sent a bill to the governor’s desk Wednesday that allows Mississippi counties and cities to use paid administrative leave.

All agreed that the issue needs further study. Holland instructed department heads to compile data on related employee time issues. There was also a discussion of employees who might be able to work from home.

Election commissioners are already working from home, said Election Commission Chairwomen Sara Dionne. She expressed concerns about the run-off election scheduled for March 31 and said she was waiting for guidance from the secretary of state’s office.

Emergency Management Director John Elfer reiterated the health guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with federal and state health officials regarding person-to-person contact, sanitation and personal hygiene. He said common sense should be used by everyone, but especially people who are already ill. Many of those dying from COVID-19 have underlying health conditions and weak immune systems.

Elfer said his office is instituting a mechanism for curbside appointments to obtain necessary permits from his office. In many cases, residents can also address issues online or by phone. Those with questions can call his office at 601-636-1544.

Northern District Justice Court Judge Edwin Woods and County Court Judge Marcie Southerland had a lengthy discussion over opinions issued by the Mississippi Supreme Court on Sunday. Those opinions give individual judges the discretion to postpone any trials on their own docket scheduled through May 15, and give guidance on witnesses, the number of people allowed in a courtroom (50, down from 200), and limiting trial attendees and juror summons.

Southerland, who also serves as Youth Court Judge and has oversight of the Juvenile Detention Center, said she would review each case to see whether it needed immediate attention or could possibly be delayed.

Judge Woods stated that he and the other two justice court judges in Warren County want to keep the courts running as normally as possible. Their area of concern is the civil trial docket, which is heard on Thursdays, he said. Usually, the courtroom is packed to capacity on those days. A proposal was made to have litigants wait in their vehicles until their case is called.

Woods and Central District Judge James Jefferson agreed that initial appearances and criminal cases needed to be dealt with as soon as possible due to statutory requirements.

There was a lengthy discussion about restricting access to the courthouse, and the county is increasing cleaning procedures.

Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace reported that his office and the jail have instituted procedures that limit access to the facility. Persons coming to file or pick up reports are now served by a records officer in the lobby. If someone is symptomatic, they will be dealt with outside the facility. Visitation at the jail has been suspended, and lawyer visits are limited to between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. when a nurse is present.

Dr. Holland said that all county department heads and supervisors have the authority to send anyone home that is presenting symptoms of the virus. He also said that quarantine does not mean going out in your boat or to the golf course: It means being in the immediate vicinity of your residence.

All agreed that this is a fluid situation and adjustments will need to be made accordingly.

The next scheduled Warren County Board of Supervisors meeting is April 6. The board anticipates additional special teleconferences in the interim.

Other county entities:

The District Attorney’s Office is open as usual.

The Golf Course is open but is only serving prepacked food and limiting the number of persons in the pro shop and clubhouse areas.

The Public Library in Vicksburg is closed. Director Katrina Stokes reported as many as 50 libraries are now closed statewide.

COVID-19

Mississippi Rental Assistance grant applications being accepted

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(Photo by Photo Mix from Pixabay)

Applications for the Mississippi Rental Assistance Grant Program are being accepted by the Mississippi Development Authority as of Thursday.

The program is designed for landlords with tenants who have fallen behind on rent due to COVID-19. The program will cover rent going back to March for tenants who have been unable to pay because they lost their job or have reduced income due to COVID-19.

Landlords are eligible for up to $30,000 and must credit grant funds to their tenants’ past due rents. Renters cannot apply directly for this program and should contact their landlords about applying on their behalf. Both small and large landlords can apply for the program.

Landlords should visit www.mississippi.org/mrap to learn more about the program and apply. The application deadline is Nov. 15.

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COVID-19 hospitalizations on the rise with increased cases

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Mississippi is seeing a steady rise in hospitalizations for confirmed and suspected cases of COVID-19. The rise is consistent with the rise in new cases. The Magnolia State is among numerous other U.S. states that are seeing a rise in cases. Daily new cases in the U.S. are now averaging more than 60,000, a 32% increase in the past two weeks. Major new outbreaks have been reported in the rural Midwest and Rocky Mountain states.

The Mississippi State Department of Health reported four new COVID-19 cases Thursday in Warren County and no new deaths. The cumulative number of cases in Warren County to date is 1,536, and the county’s death toll is 55.

Statewide, MSDH reported 958 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, bringing the total cumulative confirmed cases in Mississippi to 113,081. The seven-day average of new cases is 706, higher by 206 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 3,231. 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.

The eights deaths MSDH reported Thursday occurred between Oct. 18 and Oct. 21 in the following counties:

County Deaths reported Thursday
Benton 1
Chickasaw 1
Covington 1
Desoto 1
Jackson 1
Lafayette 1
Lincoln 1
Marshall 1

New cases and deaths were reported to MSDH as of 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 21. 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.

The number of Mississippians hospitalized for the virus as of 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 20, is 711, more than half of the late July peak of about 1,200. The number includes 605 with confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 106 people with suspected but unconfirmed cases. Of those with confirmed infections, 151 were critically ill and in intensive care units and 73 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 97,675 through Sunday, Oct. 11. This figure is updated weekly. It represents about 86.4% of the cumulative 113,081 cases reported Thursday, Oct. 22.

The number of cases in Warren County three weeks ago, Thursday, Oct. 1, was 1,423, therefore the estimated number of people presumed recovered in the county is 1,368, or about 89% of the 1,536 cumulative cases reported as of Thursday, Oct. 22. The county has an estimated 113 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. 10, is 900,479 or about 30.3% of the state’s 2.976 million residents. Mississippi’s positivity rate (positive results to tests, seven-day average) was 17.6% Wednesday according to Johns Hopkins University. The national rate is 5.6%, and 5% or lower indicates adequate testing.

The total number of outbreaks in long-term care facilities was 126 Tuesday. About 40.2%, or 1,298, 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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COVID-19

801 new COVID-19 cases reported Wednesday in Mississippi; seven-day average a third higher than last month

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New COVID-19 cases remain high in Mississippi, with the seven-day average one-third higher than it was at this time in September.

The Mississippi State Department of Health reported five new COVID-19 cases Wednesday in Warren County and no new deaths. The cumulative number of cases in Warren County to date is 1,532, and the county’s death toll is 55.

Statewide, MSDH reported 801 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, bringing the total cumulative confirmed cases in Mississippi to 112,123. The seven-day average of new cases is 758, higher by 253 cases, about one-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 Wednesday that 21 additional Mississippians died of COVID-19 statewide. The cumulative number of deaths in the state is 3,223. 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 21 deaths MSDH reported Wednesday, 12 occurred between Aug. 11 and Oct. 19 in the following counties:

County Deaths reported Wednesday
Forrest 1
Hinds 3
Jackson 2
Jones 1
Lauderdale 1
Lincoln 1
Panola 1
Pearl River 1
Washington 1

Nine COVID-19 related deaths occurred between Aug. 19 and Oct. 14, identified from death certificate reports.

County Deaths identified from death certificate reports
Clarke 1
George 1
Issaquena 1
Jones 1
Lauderdale 2
Perry 1
Washington 1
Itawamba 1

New cases and deaths were reported to MSDH as of 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 20. 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. Sunday, Oct. 18, is 653, more than half of the late July peak of about 1,200. The number includes 541 with confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 112 people with suspected but unconfirmed cases. Of those with confirmed infections, 151 were critically ill and in intensive care units and 70 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 97,675 through Sunday, Oct. 11. This figure is updated weekly. It represents about 87.1% of the cumulative 112,123 cases reported Wednesday, Oct. 21.

The number of cases in Warren County three weeks ago, Wednesday, Sept. 30, was 1,418, therefore the estimated number of people presumed recovered in the county is 1,363, or about 89% of the 1,532 cumulative cases reported as of Wednesday, Oct. 21. 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 Thursday, Oct. 15, is 900,479 or about 30.3% of the state’s 2.976 million residents. Mississippi’s positivity rate (positive results to tests, seven-day average) was 17.8% Tuesday according to Johns Hopkins University. The national rate is 5.5%, and 5% or lower indicates adequate testing.

The total number of outbreaks in long-term care facilities was 127 Tuesday. About 40.1%, or 1,293, 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. 4.

For additional information, visit the MSDH website.

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