Local officials urge mask-wearing as state sets new COVID-19 record
Published 3:48 pm Tuesday, July 21, 2020
NATCHEZ — The Mississippi State Department of Health on Tuesday reported another one-day record of confirmed COVID-19 cases with 1,635 new cases.
Also, on the Monday the Mississippi State Department of Health reported 31 new COVID-19 deaths and 943 patients with confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state’s hospitals.
Adams County’s confirmed COVID-19 cases rose by 20 cases to 449 cases and the county’s death toll remains at 22.
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Mississippi’s total confirmed COVID-19 cases now stand at 45,524 and 1,389 deaths since the pandemic began March 11.
On Monday, the Adams County Emergency Management Agency reported the county had 58 active cases and Merit Health Natchez had 11 patients with confirmed COVID-19 cases.
During Monday’s Natchez COVID-19 Task Force, Norma Williams who monitors statistics for the group, reported that during the past seven-day period July 12 through July 18, Adams County set a new record for overnight confirmed COVID-19 cases.
“We set a record of 21 new cases on July 14, which is actually July 13, per the Mississippi department of health records,” Williams said. “Our old record was 18 set on Tuesday, June 8, We had one more new death reported during the same seven-day period or a 5% increase over the prior week with a case fatality rate of 5.22%.”
Williams also said Adams County’s positivity rate of people tested for COVID-19 between July 12 and July 18 is approximately 17% compared to the Mississippi rate of approximately 11%.
“Over the past seven days July 12 through the 18th Adams County had additional 51 new cases bringing our total to 402 or a 15% increase compared to last week’s increase of 13%,” Williams said.
The state’s hospitals are at capacity for ICU beds.
“We are at a point now where the largest hospitals in the state are out of ICU bed space and dealing with a tired group of doctors and nurses here and no place to send any excess cases so we’ve got them,” said Dr. Lee England, chairman of the task force. “It is going to take an awful lot of change in the way we are behaving and conducting ourselves if we are going to change anything over the next year.”
Task force members discussed concerns about the rising numbers of people who are infected with COVID-19 and how to adequately communicate the severity of the outbreak to residents, many who are not wearing masks in public places.
“The mask requirement has to be observed,” England said. “It may come to further lockdown. We know that helps but if you get to a point where the hospital can’t take care of patients anymore or maybe patients who need oxygen are being sent home you’ve reached your limit. So it is going to take an awful lot in the way of our adapting to this more so than we have up to now.”
Merit Health Natchez CEO Lance Boyd said the hospital had 11 COVID-19 patients on Monday with none on ventilators.
Merit Health Natchez also is taking overflow patients from Claiborne and Jefferson counties, Boyd said.
“The majority of our influx now is coming from Claiborne and Jefferson counties and there seems to be a real outbreak issue in those two counties,” Boyd said. “Claiborne, we kind of split with our sister hospital in Vicksburg. About half of that population comes here and about half goes there. We are really seeing an influx from those two counties so not all of our patients we have here are just Adams County patients.”
Boyd said the state last week implemented a surge capacity plan, which asks hospitals to increase bedside service.
“Easier said than done for a lot of people,” Boyd said. “The real challenge is to make sure you have qualified nurses to handle those patients. Just having the beds is not enough so we have been working all weekend on our surge plan and we have nurses that are trained ICU nurses maybe they are working in other areas so we have been working with them. They did help out during the first surge back in March and April and now we are working with them to be prepared for this surge as well.”
The hospital surge capacity guidelines state that hospitals have to have 10% excess capacity.
“We have done that by delaying some elective procedures and that sort of thing but we can’t do any elective procedures that require overnight stay,” Boyd said. “The original date on that edict was through today but they have extended it through the third of August now. That means, knee replacement surgery, that sort of thing, will have to be delayed until after Aug. 3.”
England said the economy would not pick up until the infection rates go back down and that people will not take COVID-19 seriously until it affects someone close to them.
“People just want to think — it is magical thinking — that this is all over or this is temporary and it is not,” England said. “You can tell people all you want … I had a sergeant once who looked at me and his face was red and his neck veins stood out like ropes and he said, ‘England! Some of them I just got to tell and some of them just have to go pee on the electrical fence for themselves’ . . . We are not going to be able to do it ourselves. It is going to be that the reality occurs to different people at different moments, probably when a relative gets sick and dies. You wish it did not have to come to that but that sergeant back then was right.”
MSDH reports 154 long-term care facilities such as nursing homes in the state now have active outbreaks where an outbreak is defined as one or more cases among residents or staff.
Adams County has a total of 44 long-term care facility cases reported since the outbreak began with 11 confirmed deaths in long-term care facilities.
More details of COVID-19 in the state, along with preventive steps to take against coronavirus and statewide testing locations, are online at http://HealthyMS.com/covid-19.
The Mississippi Coronavirus Hotline is the best way to get your questions about COVID-19 answered. Call 877-978-6453 from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week.
Cases and Deaths by County
Totals of all reported cases since March 11, including those in long-term care (LTC) facilities.
High Cases and Incidence
Cumulative Cases and Deaths by County
Totals of all reported COVID-19 cases for 2020, including those in long-term care (LTC) facilities.
The numbers in this table are provisional. County case numbers and deaths may change as investigation finds new or additional information. The data provided below is the most current available.
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