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COVID-19 update: Are you now immune if you’ve had the virus?

Am I immune to the coronavirus if I’ve already had it?

You have some immunity, but how much and for how long are big unanswered questions.

There’s evidence that reinfection is unlikely for at least three months even for people who had a mild case of COVID-19. That’s how long New York City researchers found stable levels of protective antibodies in a study of nearly 20,000 patients of the Mount Sinai Health System.

Reinfection so far has been rare. The best known example: Researchers in Hong Kong said a man had mild COVID-19 and then months later was infected again but showed no symptoms. His second infection was detected through airport testing, and researchers said genetic tests revealed slightly different strains of the virus.

It’s actually evidence the man’s immune system worked like it should. Very few diseases leave people completely immune for life.

Antibodies are only one piece of the body’s defenses, and they naturally wane over time. And usually, “memory” immune cells can identify germs they previously encountered so they’re better at fighting them the second time around. That can help make any repeat infections less severe.

Scientists are studying how the other parts of the immune system kick in with the coronavirus.

It’s not known whether people who’ve been reinfected but show no symptoms would be able to spread the virus to others. That’s why health authorities say even people who have recovered from COVID-19 need to wear a mask, keep their distance and practice good hygiene.

Mississippi cases

The Mississippi State Department of Health reported 644 new cases and 36 new deaths across the state Tuesday. A total of 2,173 new cases were reported since Friday, as well as 56 deaths.

Twenty-eight of the 36 deaths reported Tuesday were from Oct. 26-Nov. 2; eight occurred July 29-Oct. 27, identified from death certificate reports.

Lincoln County had 1,484 cases and 61 total deaths as of 6 p.m. Monday — an additional 17 cases and two deaths reported since Friday.

The state has recorded 121,509 total virus cases and 3,384 deaths to date. In Mississippi, 105,839 persons are presumed recovered.

Testing

Testing is available in Brookhaven at King’s Daughters Medical Center. The COVID screening site is located behind the Emergency Room and will be open to the public 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday and 10 a.m-2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Traffic for this site should enter from Brookman Drive behind the hospital. This screening is for individuals 12 years of age and up. Call 601-835-9455 to make an appointment.

Testing is also available for those without insurance, on Mondays from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. outside the Lincoln County Health Department, 1212 Northpark Lane NE, Brookhaven. The Mississippi National Guard is in charge of performing these tests. Interested persons should call 601-496-7200 before arriving.

To find more testing facilities in the state, visit HealthyMS.com and click on “Getting Tested” in the blue menu on the left.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.