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Watch: Governor announces additional COVID-19 measures



In the wake of a recent spike of new COVID-19 cases in Mississippi, Gov. Tate Reeves announced additional measures Monday to slow the spread of the virus.

A new executive order places a 10% capacity requirement on health care facilities across the state. If hospitals cannot maintain 10% of their capacity for COVID-19 patients, they must delay elective procedures. This was a vital part of the effort to prevent hospitals from becoming overwhelmed during the summer wave. Mississippi’s COVID-19 cases have increased over the past few weeks—part of a global and national trend of increasing cases.

The governor also announced additional targeted measures for counties that meet the standards established during the summer wave. In these counties, indoor social gatherings should be limited to groups of 10. Outdoor social gatherings should be limited to groups of 50. Face coverings are required while indoors and interacting with the public without social distancing.

“We’ve seen this before,” Reeves said during a live news conference streamed Monday on Facebook. “We know what can happen if we allow this to get out of control, and so we want to be proactive to prevent that from happening. None of these elements are silver bullets. None of them will totally eliminate the virus. We have to allow for life to go on in the meantime. As we wait for a vaccine, our mission is the same as it ever was: to prevent our health care system from being overwhelmed. That has to be the focus.”

Counties must meet the following criteria for additional measures: more than 500 cases per 100,000 residents over a designated two-week period or more than 200 cases total over the designated two-week period (with more than 200 cases per 100,000 residents).

The counties that currently meet the criteria for additional COVID-19 safety measures are Chickasaw, Claiborne, DeSoto, Forrest, Itawamba, Jackson, Lamar, Lee and Neshoba.

View a copy of the executive order here.

“You’re smart. You know what you need to do to keep safe,” Reeves wrote in a Facebook post Monday. “We’ll keep trying to set policies that mitigate rampant spread while respecting everyone’s individual rights.

“Please stay watchful and be careful. We can get through this together.”


Vicksburg Warren School District reports 14 new COVID-19 cases and 46 quarantined



The Vicksburg Warren School District reported 14 new cases of COVID-19 last week (Nov. 16 through Nov. 20) among students and staff, and 46 individuals newly quarantined due to possible exposure in the same time period.

Cases and quarantines in individual schools:

Beechwood Elementary School 

  • 1 new positive case – staff
  • 1 new positive case – student
  • 6 quarantined – students

Dana Road Elementary

  • 1 new positive case – staff
  • 1 new positive case – student
  • 1 quarantined – staff

Sherman Avenue Elementary

  • 1 new positive case – student
  • 5 quarantined – students

South Park Elementary

  • 1 new positive case – student
  • 8 quarantined – students

Vicksburg High School

  • 3 new positive cases – students

Vicksburg Intermediate School

  • 1 new case – student
  • 8 quarantined – students

Vicksburg Junior High School

  • 2 new cases – staff
  • 2 quarantined – staff

Warren Central Intermediate School

  • 2 new cases – staff
  • 5 quarantined – staff
  • 16 quarantined – students
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U.S. tops 13 million cumulative COVID-19 cases Saturday



The cumulative number of COVID-19 cases in the United States officially went over 13 million as of Saturday morning, with more than 205,000 new cases reported Friday and 1,412 deaths. Hospitalizations continue to climb, with nearly 90,000 patients straining the health care system to the breaking point in many areas.

The Mississippi State Department of Health reported another day of more than 1,000 new COVID-19 cases Saturday, the 14th time this month. The cumulative number of cases in the state is just under 150,000.

In Warren County, MSDH reported 15 new COVID-19 case Saturday and no new deaths. The cumulative number of cases in Warren County to date is 1,768, and the county’s death toll is 57. Although the county continues to have almost no deaths reported this month, its 14-day average of new cases has risen from about five cases per day at the beginning of the month to 8.5 cases. The seven-day average is 8.7.

Statewide, MSDH reported 1,553 new COVID-19 cases Saturday bringing the total cumulative confirmed cases in Mississippi to 149,940. The seven-day average of new cases is 1,077 per day, about 292 cases higher than the seven-day average a month ago, when the state’s numbers were already on the rise. The current averages are on par with numbers seen 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 Saturday that 10 more Mississippians died of COVID-19 statewide. The cumulative number of deaths in the state is 3,779. 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.

The 10 deaths MSDH reported Saturday occurred between Nov. 22 and Nov. 27 in the following counties:

County Deaths reported Saturday
Benton 1
Covington 1
Hinds 1
Itawamba 1
Lafayette 2
Lauderdale 2
Leake 1
Rankin 1

New cases and deaths were reported to MSDH as of 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 27. 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. Tuesday, Nov. 24, was 1,039, about 87% of the late July peak of about 1,200. The number includes 942 with confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 97 people with suspected but unconfirmed cases. Of those with confirmed infections, 245 were critically ill and in intensive care units and 113 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 121,637 through Sunday, Nov. 22. It represents about 81.1% of the cumulative 149,940 cases reported as of Saturday, Nov. 28.

The number of cases in Warren County three weeks ago, Saturday, Nov. 7, was 1,614, therefore the estimated number of people presumed recovered in the county is 1,557, or about 88.1% of the 1,768 cumulative cases reported as of Saturday, Nov. 28. The county has an estimated 154 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. 21, is 1,237,802 or about 41.6% 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 16.5% Friday, according to Johns Hopkins University. The national rate is 9.4%, and 5% or lower indicates adequate testing.

The total number of outbreaks in long-term care facilities was 203 Saturday, an increase of 10 since Friday. About 38%, or 1,436, of the state’s total deaths were people in long-term care facilities. The cumulative number of COVID-19 cases in LTC facilities is 7,586, about 5.1% of the state’s total cases.

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 by provider here. The latest data available is for the week ending Nov. 15.

For additional information, visit the MSDH website.

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Five benefits of a global pandemic



(photo by Mathilda Khoo on Unsplash)

When 2020 is finally history, most people are probably hoping to forget it ever happened. After all, it’s difficult to imagine a silver lining from a year that has given us a worldwide pandemic, not to mention a ravaged global economy. 

Jennifer Williams, right, with her children, Stone and Sydney. (photo courtesy J. Williams)

If we look ahead, though, there is potential good to come from this unprecedented time, says Jennifer Williams, a Vicksburg resident who works for the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center. She is a wife and mother of two: 16-year-old Stone, her son, and 8-year-old Sydney, her daughter.

Benefit 1: The realization or reminder that time is precious 

Before 2020, many families tended to see each other in passing. Parents were running off to work, children were running off to school followed by practices, games and rehearsals. Family dinners had become increasingly uncommon since most of us were in a constant state of go. COVID-19 forced us all to slow down. In fact, it forced us all to actually stop for several weeks. Believe it or not, the “Great Quarantine of 2020” will likely inspire a few comedy flicks. 

Along those same lines, the current restrictions have seen to it that parents are becoming more involved with their children because they’ve been basically forced to become home school teachers.

“The upside to all of this (the pandemic) is you develop a better understanding of your children as students,” Williams said.

“You fully understand their strengths and weaknesses as pupils. You now know what their teachers know,” she added. “I, for one,  have also learned that teachers deserve a gigantic raise and the best seats in heaven. Teaching mine is not easy.” 

Benefit 2: One can never be too prepared

One of the byproducts of the coronavirus is depleted grocery shelves. Most of us haven’t yet built bomb shelters, but we have learned to stock up on essentials. 

“I used to joke with my mother about the boxes of (powdered) milk she had in her pantry,” Williams recalled with a laugh. “She would defend her boxes by asking me what would happen if we ran out of milk.

 “I told her if you run out, you can go to the store or order it from Amazon.”

In Williams’ case, mother did indeed know best. “When this (the COVID-19 crisis) all started, I learned quickly that it’s a good idea to have food, water and medical supplies on hand for emergencies,” she said. “And of course, toilet paper.” 

Benefit 3: The importance of saving

In the beginning, many people were in a state of panic as they found themselves financially unprepared. People will hopefully come out of this with a healthier approach to finances. 

“My parents always encouraged me to put money aside,” Williams said. “They made a point of spending less than what they made. It was always ingrained in me to not live beyond my means.”

“Maybe after things get back to normal, some people will realize it’s a bad idea to buy the Escalade off the showroom floor,” she added. “Hopefully people will have learned that the used 4Runner gets them where they need to go just as well.”

Benefit 4: Improved attitude concerning health-care workers

It’s common to complain about how long we sit in waiting rooms during doctor appointments or about the cost of medicine or co-pays. However, it’s time to appreciate health-care professionals on the front line who are at risk while serving the masses.

“I hope people can see how dedicated the medical crews are around the country,” Williams said. “We are so fortunate to have the doctors and nurses in the hospitals in America. So many people take them for granted. They are doing a phenomenal job now, and that was true before the coronavirus.”

Benefit 5: Kindness always counts

“Caremongering” is a word that didn’t exist before the coronavirus. I dare you to try it during your marathon Words with Friends games. A kind-hearted woman from Toronto named Valentina Harper is responsible for introducing the word to our lexicon.

Like many things these days, caremongering is driven by social media. Hashtags provide a permanent record of all the good happening across North America. Some of the common acts of care include supermarket runs for those who are unable to leave their homes. People are cooking meals for those in need and disseminating gift cards to the recently unemployed. 

“I sure hope people continue being so generous and kind when all of the restrictions are lifted. I’ve witnessed some truly heartwarming acts of kindness because of this pandemic,” Williams said. “Is it too much to ask for everybody to keep it going?” 

She then answered her own question: “You know what? We will keep being considerate and kind. I bet looking back on this whole year, we all realize we made it through it, and we’re better people for it.”

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