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State health officer urges avoiding any “non-essential events”

“Assume everyone you come into contact with is a contagious coronavirus case.”

 

Mississippi’s top health officials urge residents to avoid non-essential activities as COVID-19 cases skyrocket.

At a press conference Wednesday, State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs and State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers discussed the record number of 2,457 new virus infections reported in the state — the state’s highest daily total of new cases since the beginning of the pandemic.

Hospitalizations are increasing and the number of available intensive care unit beds is decreasing. As of Wednesday, 13 major hospitals in the state had no ICU beds available and 20 hospitals had 10% or fewer of their total beds available, Dobbs said.

“For these reasons, we have issued public health guidance urging every Mississippi resident to avoid social gatherings that include people outside the nuclear family or household,” Dobbs said. “Assume everyone you come in contact with is a contagious coronavirus case.”

Dobbs said non-essential events include dinner parties, family gatherings, weddings, funerals, sporting events and in-person church services. He said residents should limit events to going to work, going to school, buying groceries or “other absolutely essential activities.”

“Right now, we want to avoid funerals and get through this winter hump to the point where we have the vaccine and can get back to normal, and with as many people in Mississippi left to join us on the other side,” he said. “For crying out loud, we’re almost to a vaccine.”

While urging a self-imposed virtual lockdown, Dobbs said a statewide mask mandate and additional measures would be ineffective.

“If we wore masks in public, it would not be remotely impactful,” Dobbs said. “It’s social gatherings where people are not wearing masks. It’s people at funerals hugging people. These sacred ceremonies are driving transmission.”