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Coronavirus: Stay informed, take proper precautions

Cases of COVID-19 continue to be identified in U.S. states — four in Southwest Mississippi — and in many areas person-to-person transmission has occurred. This is a rapidly changing situation that is continually being monitored by the Center for Disease Control and the Mississippi State Department of Health as more cases in the U.S. are expected.

Mississippians are advised to take health precautions to prevent the possible transmission of disease, and stay in touch for the latest information on the situation in Mississippi. So far, two presumptive positive cases have been reported in Copiah County, one in Wilkinson County and one in Walthall County. And MSDH reported the first death from COVID-19 in Mississippi — a man in his early 60s from Hancock County with chronic underlying conditions. He died in a Louisiana hospital.

The MSDH Public Health Laboratory is testing samples submitted by Mississippi physicians and healthcare providers around the state in cases where COVID-19 is determined to be a risk. Anyone with symptoms of fever, severe cough or severe chest pains — especially those who are older or in poor health — should call their doctor or healthcare provider for instructions on safely being examined. Healthcare providers can assess your health history and symptoms, and perform testing for COVID-19 as needed.

David Culpepper, director of marketing for King’s Daughters Medical Center, said some people have been told they shouldn’t come to the hospital or call an ambulance if they are having shortness of breath or difficulty breathing — symptoms of COVID-19. He offered a clarification.

“King’s Daughters encourages individuals to contact their primary care provider if they are having symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to someone who has the virus, as advised by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Mississippi State Department of Health,” Culpeper said. “However, if an individual feels they have an emergency condition, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, KDMC advises contacting 911 or going to the nearest emergency room as soon as possible.

“We apologize for the miscommunication and any possible confusion or inconvenience.  KDMC is here to serve our community in any way possible,” Culpepper said.

COVID-19 is a new respiratory virus first identified in Wuhan, China that causes flu-like illness ranging from mild to severe, with symptoms of fever, coughing, fatigue and difficulty breathing. Like the flu, COVID-19 is thought to spread person-to-person by close contact — within 6 feet — and by coughing or sneezing. Other possible routes of transmission may include touching surfaces contaminated by the virus.

Other COVID-19 updates

• The Mississippi State Department of Health recommends all physicians, physician assistants and podiatrists to delay all elective surgery and non-essential invasive procedures during the state of emergency for the COVID-19 pandemic. Similar recommendations have been issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American College of Surgeons. Delaying these procedures and visits will help reduce potential exposure to COVID-19 for patients and staff, which is aligned with the current national and state recommendations for social distancing.

• The Lincoln County Jail’s new hours for the lobby are 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. for visitation and bonding.

• The Lincoln County-Brookhaven Government Complex will remain open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. However, visitors will notice that area are being cleaned and sanitized more often and workers in some offices will be wearing gloves when handling money and interacting with the public.

• The Lincoln-Lawrence-Franklin Regional Library with branches in Brookhaven, Meadville, Monticello and New Hebron will be closed at least through March 21. Patrons will not be charged for overdue fines for materials due through at least March 29. Patrons are asked to return all library material to the book-drop located at the east entrance of the library when they are due.