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Adams County’s COVID-19 numbers up 9% over previous week

NATCHEZ — COVID-19 numbers are up 9% from the previous week in Adams County, an infectious disease expert told members of the Natchez COVID-19 Task Force on Monday.

“Two weeks ago, I mentioned that we had a 5% rise in cases from the week before in total cases,” Dr. Lee England, chairman of the Natchez COVID-19 Task Force told task force members on Monday. “Then, the following week, last week, we reported that there was a 4% rise. This week, there is now a 9% rise and that can be concerning, and we will know a little more when the new stats come out in the next day or two.”

England said he is not sure whether the rise in numbers came because of testing in nursing homes or as a result of more businesses reopening and a lifting of some COVID-19 restrictions.

“It just remains to be seen which way this is going to go next week,” England said. “We just have to watch it carefully.”

In previous weeks, England told task force members to wait until June 21 to decide whether to relax more regulations and allow churches to begin holding in-person services.

“We will watch the reports that are put out in the next day or two,” England said. “That 9% will tell us something. If it turns into 18% we will probably have trouble. If it turns back into 6% or 7% or stays at 9% that is a different set of circumstances. We will just have to watch.”

Merit Health Natchez CEO Lance Boyd told task force member that the hospital currently has three patients with COVID-19.

“One of those patients is on the ventilator,” Boyd said. “As far as total patients in the hospital we are at a very low number right now. As far as capacity and capability we have a lot of access at this point. When we were at our highest COVID levels (we had) 19 COVID patients.”

Boyd said the hospital is currently testing an average of five patients per day.

“On the in-patient side this month, the month of June, we’ve tested 37 patients,” Boyd said, adding the numbers are a bit deceptive because some of those are patients are being tested to make sure they can be discharged safely to a nursing home. “That’s an average of 2.5 cases, 2.5 tests per day, on the inpatient side.”

Boyd said outpatients come into the Emergency Room seeking a test or they were sent to the hospital for testing by their doctor.

“We have done 75 tests so far this month, so five per day has been about average that we’ve done over the last two and a half months,” Boyd said. “We have seen a few weeks where we averaged over seven. Unlike some of the state numbers, though, we’ve been consistently averaging anywhere from 23% to 25% of our tests that come back positive.”

Boyd also said that testing continues to reveal new symptoms of COVID-19.

“They’ve added some symptoms that seem like regular sinusitis at this point,” Boyd said. “The real key as we continue to reopen and look at this is emphasize to the public that if you are sick stay home because it may just seem like allergies and sinuses but it may not be.”

Task force members also said studies continue to show that wearing masks helps curtail the spread of COVID-19 and said they would work to develop a campaign to help educate people about wearing masks.

“The cloth masks that you see people wearing are good at preventing a person who has the disease from spreading it to anybody else,” England said. “Things go out into the room if you speak or you sing or you yell or you shout and the mask is very good at preventing that.”

England said such masks are less effective at protecting the wearer so wearing a mask is for the wearer to protect others in case the wearer unknowingly has the disease.

Boyd also said the hospital is working with The American Red Cross, which has a critically low blood supply because of the COVID-19 pandemic, to hold a blood drive from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. Aug. 14 with a goal of collecting 250 units of blood.

Norma Williams told task force member that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and confirmed COVID-19 deaths metrics through Saturday, June 13, obtained from usafacts.org.

“Looking at the past seven days, June 7 through June 13, we had 22 new COVID cases, bringing our total up to 225 cases, which is right in line with what Dr. England had reported of a 9% rise in confirmed cases,” Williams said. “When it comes to confirmed deaths that same seven-day period we had one new death bringing our total deaths up to 17 or a 6% rise there.”

Concordia Parish during the same time period had nine new cases, Williams said.

“That brings our total (in Concordia Parish) up to 105 or a 9% increase,” Williams said. “We didn’t have any new deaths so we are still holding at five deaths in Concordia Parish. Thankfully, yesterday’s report from both Mississippi as well as Louisiana departments of health, we didn’t have any change in cases nor deaths for Adams County and Concordia Parish although of course we did see increases in state totals as expected.”

Natchez National Historical Park Superintendent Kathleen Bond said she still does not have an opening date for the park.

“We are following the White House guidelines for opening America, and we are also trying to align that with what is going on in the state,” Bond said. “Just the fact that our state case numbers have jumped up and down all along on a daily basis means that we have not seen 14 days of decreasing numbers that we are supposed to have before we change our operational status. … I hope that our numbers will stabilize so that we can move forward by the first of July.”