Coahoma County reported its first new case of coronavirus in four days Friday, but again the state has reported an increase of 404 new cases today.
The statistics continue to confirming data that some communities in Mississippi are handling their fight against COVID-19 better than others and all cities and towns have unique factors affecting their numbers.
Gov. Tate Reeves said Friday he plans to extend his Safer-At-Home requirements on Monday two more weeks.
“No more than 10 people gathering in on spot,” Reeves said. “No more than 20 people in one place outdoors. Stay at home if you can. If you are 65 and older and have pre-existing conditions – stay home. We will allow salons and barbershops to reopen with strict rules.”
Dr. Thomas Dobbs, State Health Officer said the state is addressing specific community outbreaks. He also pointed out Mississippi is testing more people for the disease and getting treatment for those people.
There were 9,090 cases of COVID-19 reported in the state Friday with 71 of those cases being in Coahoma County.
But again, the state’s metropolitan areas contributed the majority of gains in both new cases and fatalities. The state has now reported 409 fatalities, but saw only 13 fatalities related to COVID-19. The fatality rate was down from 22 on Thursday and 32 on Wednesday and Tuesday.
The disease continues to sweep through nursing homes with 1,091 cases reported in Long Term Care (LTC facilities and 175 deaths – more than a third of the state’s total fatalities – reported in those facilities.
Lauderdale County again led the state reporting 112 cases in its Long Term Care facilities and 25 deaths; Monroe County follows with 91 LTC cases and 18 deaths and Lincoln County with 55 cases and eight deaths. Coahoma County initially reported a case of coronavirus in a nursing home on March 22, but that case has now been determined to have been pneumonia.
There have been 29 new cases reported in Coahoma County over the past 26 days
Coahoma County had a population of 22,628 according to 2018 census estimates. As of today 0.313-percent of the county's population has been diagnosed with the disease with most homes and businesses not having any family member or employee who has become sick.
Coahoma County reported its first coronavirus case on March 18, its first fatality on April 4, its second fatality April 19 and third fatality April 28.
The county is 52-days into the pandemic and it is apparent most of those 71 now infected have gotten well.
The Center for Disease Control said the typical case of COVID-19 can last up to two weeks, with those suffering severe cases being ill up to three or four weeks.
Lifting the ban
Overall, Coahoma County numbers appear to be stabilizing and federal officials are also hinting the peak of the disease at the national level may be approaching.
Gov. Tate Reeves said Friday he is concerned with the damage to the economy as well as the threat to individuals.
Reeves said in his afternoon press conference that barbers, hair salon, manicure shops and gyms can reopen with strict public health requirements for those operating those businesses.
“Today we have the highest unemployment rate in the U.S. since the great depression,” said Reeves. “In Mississippi we have had 200,000 people file for unemployment in the past seven weeks.
“I must weigh the great depression threat against the public health threat,” said Reeves. “We can’t shut down until there is no more risk. People must be responsible and realize the risks.”
Reeves added that he never said people could not go to church and that privilege is protected by the U.S. Constitution.
The city and county – as they have in the past – are expected to follow Reeves lead.
Mayor Chuck Espy said Tuesday Clarksdale is entering Phase 2, of the shutdown and the city is working on prevention measures and providing Personal Protective Equipment for the community. The city voted to mail all residents four cloths masks on Tuesday.
“We’re looking to get back to business as usual,” said Espy. “We will be meeting Thursday and there is the potential of lifting the curfew and easing businesses back into doing business.”
The Board of Mayor and Commissioners has voted to continue the city’s shutdown until May 11.
President Donald Trump announced steps to re-open the economy more than three weeks ago and has asked governors and local officials to follow these guidelines.
Trump’s plan for states to reopen the economy is:
• Vulnerable individuals – the elderly and those with underlying conditions – should continue to shelter in place.
• Areas with declining numbers and no evidence of a rebound can loosen restrictions.
• States, counties and cities must show core preparedness responsibilities that include ability to treat patients, ability to pinpoint interactions of infected people and resources to test for and then treat people with COVID-19.
Residents have been told by city and county officials to not gather in groups of more than 10 people and to stay at home. The city and county have also imposed a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew and ordered select businesses to close or at least alter the way they do business. Most businesses have remained open.
This is a rapidly changing situation that is continually being monitored by the Center for Disease Control and MSDH as more cases in the U.S. are expected. The risk of infection to the general public in Mississippi remains low, but all Mississippians are advised to take health precautions to prevent the possible transmission of disease.
Across the state, Mississippi's coronavirus count rose to 9,090 cases as of Friday. This averages to 110 cases per Mississippi 82 counties and MSDH now says 4,421 people have recovered.
The 404 new cases Friday was close to the 397 new cases in the state Friday, May 1.
Mississippi has a population of 2.987 million people and as of today 0.304-percent of the population has or has had the disease. Mississippi has implemented a massive testing program and an increase in testing has pushed the number of cases higher.
The state has told those who have symptoms, and have been tested, to retest in two weeks as the test indication can be incorrect up to 30 percent of the time.
Mississippi leads the southeast in the number percentage of tests conducted. As of today, 80,308 people (2.67-percent of the population) have been tested. Monitoring the infection rate and quarantining those with the disease has been a key factor for both state and federal leaders as they consider reopening the economy.
Mississippi initially reported 50 cases on March 11 and, like other flu viruses, you can get a mild case of the disease and not know it.
MSDH is also releasing data on who is being affected most by coronavirus.
The state again said 56.7-percent of the cases are African American, 33.2-percent are white and 10.1-percent are listed as other. The fatality ratio shows that 55.5-percent of those who have died were African American and 41.5 percent were white and those percentages have also varied little since numbers started being released.
MSDH numbers also show that 77.6-percent of those identified with coronavirus are not being hospitalized and this has been a rising number. Most hospitals are not keeping patients unless the condition is life threatening.
Data from the state also indicates the majority of those dying of COVID-19 had underlying conditions. Hypertension now tops of the list with 187 cases, followed by cardiovascular disease at 175, diabetes at 143 and obesity at 90. Only five deaths have not had some type of underlying condition contribute to a fatality.
Mississippi seems to be getting more tests than many states. Urban areas of the state -- and nation -- are getting more testing. The more rural areas of the nation -- the Midwest and Mountain States -- are reporting fewer cases of coronavirus. The Northeast -- particularly New York City -- and the eastern seaboard are reporting most of the country's cases.
County by county
The Mississippi State Department of Health and the University of Mississippi Medical Center brought in a mobile coronavirus testing unit to Coahoma County on March 27 and tested approximately 25 people for the disease at the Coahoma County Expo Center. The results of those tests do not appear to have radically altered the local case count.
Cases reported as of today in the following Mississippi counties were: Adams (157), Alcorn (10), Amite (33), Attala (182) Benton (13), Bolivar (118), Calhoun (57), Carroll (97), Chickasaw (88), Choctaw (15), Claiborne (37), Clarke (77), Clay (64), Coahoma (71), Copiah (152), Covington (88), Desoto (325), Forrest (294), Franklin (17), George (15), Greene (6), Grenada (45), Hancock (72), Harrison (193), Hinds (657), Holmes (196), Humphreys (28), Itawamba (67), Jackson (273), Jasper (84), Jefferson (30), Jeff Davis (51), Jones (223), Kemper (89), Lafayette (98), Lamar (141), Lauderdale (463), Lawrence (63), Leake (286), Lee (77), Leflore (182), Lincoln (179), Lowndes (73), Madison (404), Marion (82), Marshall (52), Monroe (191), Montgomery (65), Neshoba (287), Newton (130), Noxubee (100), Oktibbeha (73), Panola (43), Pearl River (189), Perry (32), Pike (163), Pontotoc (22), Prentiss (33), Quitman (16), Rankin (238), Scott (438), Sharkey (5), Simpson (60), Smith (99), Stone (23), Sunflower (63), Tallahatchie (12), Tate (49), Tippah (63), Tishomingo (9), Tunica (38), Union (42), Walthall (37), Warren (94), Washington (80), Wayne (27), Webster (21), Wilkinson (74), Winston (61), Yalobusha (27) and Yazoo (162).
County case numbers change as investigations find new information on a case's home county. Cases reported also tend to increase late in the week as people are tested during the week and results take 1- to 3-days to return.
The state announced its first death due to coronavirus March 20. Fatalities attributed to the disease have been reported in Adams (11), Alcorn (1), Attala (4), Bolivar (8), Calhoun (4), Carroll (4), Chickasaw (10), Choctaw (2), Clarke (7), Clay (3), Coahoma (3), Copiah (2), Covington (1), Desoto (5), Forrest (20), Franklin (1), George (1), Greene (1), Grenada (2), Hancock (9), Harrison (6), Hinds (11), Holmes (17), Humphreys (4), Itawamba (6), Jackson (11), Jasper (2), Jeff Davis (1), Jones (4), Kemper (6), Lafayette (3), Lamar (4), Lauderdale (41), Leake (2), Lee (4), Leflore (18), Lincoln (12), Lowndes (3), Madison (12), Marion (7), Marshall (2), Monroe (20), Montgomery (1), Neshoba (12), Noxubee (2), Oktibbeha (4), Panola (2), Pearl River (24), Perry (1), Pike (10), Pontotoc (2), Prentiss (2), Rankin (6), Scott (6), Smith (6), Sunflower (3), Tallahatchie (1), Tippah (10), Tunica (2), Union (3), Warren (2), Washington (3), Webster (1), Wilkinson (9) and Yazoo (2) counties as of today.
The virus appears to be affecting the state's higher population areas such as the Gulf Coast, Jackson, Meridian metropolitan areas, Desoto and Lee counties more intensely. Communities that have had people travel to or from larger U.S. cities also appear to have a higher incident of the disease. As of today, only Issaquena County has reported no cases of the COVID-19.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Your Clarksdale Press Register will keep readers posted as we learn more information and as news changes. All stories about coronavirus are being offered free to the community and will not be put behind the Clarksdale Press Register paywall.