COVID update: mask mandate back on, schools report more cases

The mask mandate is back on for DeSoto and eight other Mississippi counties listed by Gov. Tate Reeves in a press briefing today from Jackson.  

Reeves announced the additional measures for DeSoto, Chickasaw, Claiborne, Forrest, Itawamba, Jackson, Lamar, Lee, and Neshoba counties.  

In these counties, indoor social gatherings will be limited to 10 people and outdoor groups are limited to 50 people. 

Masks will be required indoors again and when people are together where social distancing cannot be achieved.  

“We’ve seen this before,” Reeves said in announcing the new restrictions. “We know what can happen if we allow this to get out of control, and so we want to be proactive to prevent that from happening. We have to allow for life to go on in the meantime. As we wait for a vaccine, our mission is the same as it ever was: to prevent our healthcare system from being overwhelmed. That has to be the focus.”

Counties are in the new mandates because they had more than 500 cases per 100,000 residents over a designated two-week period or more than 200 cases total over the designated two-week period (with more than 200 cases per 100,000 residents) had cases of coronavirus.  

The new executive order also placed a 10-percent capacity requirement for healthcare facilities. That means if hospitals cannot hold the number of coronavirus patients to no more than 10 percent of its capacity, elective procedures must be delayed.  

Reeves said this particular move was a vital part of the effort to prevent hospitals from becoming overwhelmed during the summer wave. 

Mississippi’s COVID-19 cases have increased over the past few weeks—part of a global and national trend of increasing cases. 

A copy of the executive order can be found here.

Speaking with the County Board of Supervisors Monday morning, County EMS Director Mark Davis said the increase is not a big surprise, though. 

“We knew this was coming, we started talking about this in May,” Davis said. “Some people are attributing it to the removal of the mask mandate, but we’ve been talking since May and June that we need to get ready for flu season, because now, not only do you have flu but you have COVID also.”  

DeSoto County reached a somber watermark of sorts in the coronavirus pandemic over the weekend when it passed the 6,500 level for positive cases of the pandemic on Saturday and Monday’s report lists 6,636 coronavirus cases in the county.  

The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) did not offer a report on Sunday, so Monday’s rise also includes any figures that would have been reported on Sunday, but were not.  

There are now 77 people who have died in connection with the virus in the county. Eighty long-term care outbreaks in DeSoto County have been reported and of that number, 16 long-term care residents have died.  

On Monday, the state had counted 110,592 positive coronavirus cases and 3,171 victims related to COVID-19.  

The latest figures from the state Department of Health is found on their website.

“Active cases as of Saturday are 740,” said Davis. “The last board meeting we had like 377 and we were all excited because we were down below 400 for the first time in several months.”

The Board of Supervisors also extended the emergency declaration due to the pandemic for another month, until Nov. 16, but Davis said the declaration simply allows the county to get funding or reimbursement for money spent for COVID patients or treatment. Anything the county spends, it can apply for grants for reimbursement.  

Prior to the afternoon announcements, DeSoto County Schools released its weekly report on additional COVID-19 cases and quarantines. The state’s largest school district reported 49 more positive cases among its students and a total of 336 new quarantines. 

DeSoto Central High School had the most number of new positive cases with 12 and reported 51 new quarantines. Lake Cormorant High School reported the most new quarantines with 79 and had five new cases. 

There were five new cases and 37 additional quarantines at Lake Cormorant Middle School. While there was just one new case at Chickasaw Elementary School, there were 31 new quarantines.

DCS said 23 new cases were found in school staff members districtwide in the week that ended Oct. 16. Monday, Oct. 12 was a district holiday for Columbus Day.  

The DCS weekly report is found on the district website.  

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