• 81°

Lincoln County COVID-19 update: Cases still on rise; curfews to be lifted

The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus COVID-19 in Lincoln County has risen by 16 this week to 316. The death toll has not climbed, remaining at 32, according to numbers published by the Mississippi State Department of Health.

Lincoln County had two active outbreaks in long term care facilities as of Thursday. A total of 92 cases — both active and resolved — had been reported for LTC facilities, with 25 deaths, unchanging from previous reports. Of those 92 cases, 13 were black residents, 77 were white and two were listed as unknown. Of the 25 deaths, two were black residents and 23 were white.

LTC facilities include nursing homes, personal care homes, assisted living homes and intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disability.

No residential care facility in the county had an outbreak. Residential care facilities include psychiatric or chemical dependency residential treatment centers and long-term acute care facilities.

Statewide, Mississippi has reported 18,483 as of Thursday — 715 more cases than Monday — and 868 deaths — 31 more than the beginning of the week. More than 195,400 tests were negative, however.

The number of people hospitalized statewide for COVID-19 has increased again — climbing from where it had fallen to by nearly 10% to 390 — up to 655 Thursday, according to CovidTracking.com. Of these, 99 patients were on ventilators.   

King’s Daughters Medical Center had 228 patients who tested positive for coronavirus as of Wednesday afternoon, up from 206 the previous Friday. At that time, 1,577 tests had been submitted to the state.

At least 13,356 people in the state are presumed to have recovered from COVID-19.

Statewide testing

As of Thursday, the 90th day of COVID-19 cases being reported in Mississippi, approximately 7% of the state’s residents have been tested for the disease, a press release from the Mississippi State Department of Health stated.

The number includes every resident and staff member at each of the 211 nursing homes within the state — 13,911 residents and 17,324 staff members — tested during a 14-day period over the last two weeks of May. Of these, 676 tested positive for COVID-19.

“We have been tracking outbreaks in nursing homes since we first saw COVID cases in Mississippi on March 11,” said State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs. “That has been a very vulnerable population that has shown to be more susceptible to severe illness and death from COVID.”

Dobbs said an interesting finding from the nursing home testing was that many of the positive cases in residents presented with mild symptoms, not fever or shortness of breath.

Lifting curfews

A new executive order from Gov. Tate Reeves will take effect Monday, lifting the current 10 p.m. curfew for bars and restaurants serving alcohol, as long as they “do their best” to reduce customer capacity to 50%, Reeves said Wednesday.

The new order will also allow gyms and fitness centers to increase capacity from 25% to 50%. Reception halls will be able to open at 50% capacity. Arenas will be able to host events with a maximum 25% capacity. Government entities will resume normal business operations no later than July 1, Reeves said.

The governor expressed concern over several large gatherings in the state recently.

“When you consider the fact that Memorial Day weekend was two and a half weeks ago, and these large protests have taken place throughout our state over the last 10 days, I’m concerned that those numbers are not going to decline significantly any time soon,” Reeves said.

Dobbs said he’s seen a pattern of young people getting the virus after attending large gatherings and taking the illness home to older family members.

“Please, I’m about to say, if you’re over 65, avoid your grandkids,” Dobbs said.

Prevention and testing

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have stated no vaccine is currently available to prevent coronavirus COVID-19. The best way to prevent illness, according to the CDC, is to avoid being exposed.

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person to person, within about 6 feet.

It is believed to spread through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks.

Both MSDH and KDMC offer testing for the virus. Anyone who wishes to be tested at an MSDH center must complete a prescreening through the department’s smartphone apps or by calling 877-978-6453.

Anyone who wants to be tested by KDMC should call 601-835-9455 prior to visiting the hospital’s testing site, located behind the emergency room.

The site is open 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Screening is for individuals age 12 and older.