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With tests results lagging, practice social distancing

We are living through unprecedented times with the COVID-19 pandemic.

One of the worst parts of the pandemic is fear of the unknown.

With each day that passes, more news trickles out not only on the number of cases and deaths from the disease but also on restrictive measures being put in place to limit the potential spread of the virus.

It is important for our trusted sources of information on this pandemic to provide as much information as possible on the disease, particularly on the testing and the spread of the disease.

The Mississippi State Department of Health provides the number of tested cases, the number of positive test results and the number of deaths. The department also provides a list of counties and the number of confirmed cases and deaths associated with each location. But that is all of the information they provide.  They cannot tell us how many tests were performed in a particular county or the age or gender of the people who have tested positive, much less how or where they might have contracted the virus.

The numbers the MSHD can provide, however, are behind. Natchez Mayor Darryl Grennell is awaiting his test results that were sent off five days ago to a private laboratory.  The state lab maintains that it is still turning tests around in 24 hours.

Testing is an important component of the spread of the coronavirus and if test results are lagging five or six days behind that means the reported numbers are lagging five or six days behind as well so the actual numbers are much higher than are being reported on a given day. Providing delayed information risks providing a false sense of security for area residents who are not taking the warning seriously.

We must assume people are walking among us who have been exposed to the virus and do not yet show symptoms because the virus has an incubation period of several days between exposure and symptoms.

That is why it is so important to practice social distancing and good hygiene in the form of frequent hand washing and in covering your sneezes and coughs with your elbow.

Stay out of public places and stay well.