Governor returning from Spain as coronavirus cases rise in Mississippi

Five more people have tested positive for coronavirus in Mississippi, including two in the Hattiesburg area, where the state's initial case lives, and two whose home counties aren't yet being released, the Mississippi State Department of Health said Friday.

Posted: Mar 13, 2020 11:44 AM
Updated: Mar 13, 2020 11:22 PM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Five more people have tested positive for coronavirus in Mississippi, including two in the Hattiesburg area, where the state's initial case lives, and two whose home counties aren't yet being released, the Mississippi State Department of Health said Friday.

PREVIOUS STORY: State issued recommendations for coronavirus after first case reported in Mississippi.

Gov. Tate Reeves, who has been in Spain with his family for a daughter's soccer tournament, is returning Friday, news outlets reported. Asked whether the governor will quarantine himself in light of the thousands of cases in Spain, Dr. Thomas Dobbs, the state health officer, said, “We are meeting with him. We don't want to scoop what the governor has to say.”

The news that Mississippi now has six cases of the respiratory illness called COVID-19 came as school and college closures, which have mounted nationwide, began to spread across Mississippi and numerous public events were postponed or cancelled. It's all part of a push to stem new cases of the illness caused by the virus.

“It's very apparent that things are progressing and evolving very rapidly,” said Dr. Paul Byers, the state epidemiologist. “This is not unexpected ... based on what we've seen in other states and other countries.”

The two new Forrest County cases include a woman over the age of 65 who recently traveled to North Carolina and has been hospitalized. A man who recently traveled to Florida is isolating himself at home to avoid spreading the virus, a news release said. The third newly diagnosed person is a Leflore County woman who is also staying home, Byers said at a news conference with Dobbs on Friday afternoon.

He said he cannot yet release information about the other two newly diagnosed people. “We're still in the process of notifying their physicians about their patients, trying to identify those individuals, make contact with them and identify their contacts,” Byers said.
The six are among 90 people tested so far.

“We are conducting further investigation to determine if and how these cases might be connected to the first presumptive case. At this point, that is not clear, but we are thoroughly exploring all possibilities,” Dobbs said in the earlier news release.

Most people with the disease called COVID-19 have only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

The vast majority of those infected get well. Recovery takes about two weeks for people with mild symptoms but can take three to six weeks for those with more severe illness, according to the World Health Organization.

Dobbs said the department now recommends that nursing homes and other long-term health facilities stop “group social activities” and urges everyone to avoid gatherings of more than 250 people.

On Thursday, health officials said people with health problems should avoid such gatherings and advised long-term care facilities to restrict visitation. Mississippi's Department of Corrections suspended visitation to state inmates.

“Do not go to church,” Dr. Rambod Rouhbaksh of Forrest General Hospital in Hattiesburg said Thursday. “Do not go to mass gatherings that are not absolutely necessary."

In addition to Forrest County cases, some Mississippi residents in the state’s northwest corner are on home quarantine after possible exposure to a case in nearby Memphis, Tennessee.

Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann told reporters Friday that lawmakers would continue to meet at the state capitol in Jackson, but the state Senate Rules Committee voted to stop inviting student pages or people to be honored on the floor of the Senate. Hosemann told the Clarion Ledger that displays by groups inside the capitol will also be canceled. Hosemann said State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs advised lawmakers on restrictions.

“We have not discussed postponing,” he told the Clarion Ledger.

The state Board of Education announced Friday that it would hold its meeting only online next week, saying it wanted to limit public contact that might be spreading the virus

The board noted that it doesn't have authority to close schools statewide, leaving that decision to local authorities. Schools must make up any days they miss, unless the governor or president declares an emergency, it said.

At least six public school districts — Tupelo, Oxford, Hollandale, Marshall County, Lafayette County and Lowndes County — have announced they will take days off next week. Many schools statewide have been on spring break this week.

Most of the state's 15 community colleges said they would cancel classes next week. Some colleges said they plan to resume on-campus instruction for at least some students on March 23. Their move comes after the state's eight public universities announced they were extending their spring breaks through March 23 and then would begin online classes.

The Mississippi Department of Archives and History closed all its museums, including the twin civil rights and history museums in Jackson.

Many large events statewide were canceled or postponed, including monster truck rallies set for this weekend in Tupelo and Friday night appearances by televangelist Joel Osteen in Jackson and comedian Tracy Morgan in Tunica County.

The Mississippi-Alabama All-Star Basketball Classic will go on Friday, but only immediate family and coaches will be admitted, the Mississippi Association of Coaches said.

The Rapiscan Systems Classic senior golf tournament set for March 23 through 29 in Biloxi was also canceled, while rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd's March 20 concert in Tupelo will be rescheduled.

Gulf Wars, an eight-day Society for Creative Anachronism event scheduled to start Saturday in Lumberton, also was canceled.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 265146

Reported Deaths: 5777
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17741191
Hinds16891332
Harrison14279204
Rankin11239220
Jackson10917190
Lee9071145
Madison8599169
Jones6731118
Forrest6208124
Lauderdale6121192
Lowndes5544120
Lafayette520598
Lamar505865
Washington4933125
Bolivar4126109
Oktibbeha408382
Panola386981
Pontotoc377460
Monroe3686110
Warren3685103
Marshall357170
Union356864
Pearl River3495106
Neshoba3490154
Leflore3118109
Lincoln306788
Hancock294262
Sunflower291975
Tate280662
Alcorn273154
Pike270181
Itawamba269363
Scott260048
Yazoo256756
Prentiss253754
Coahoma249755
Copiah249749
Tippah249750
Simpson242872
Leake238167
Marion224273
Grenada223972
Covington221073
Adams215171
Wayne213734
Winston207671
George204739
Newton199946
Attala197064
Tishomingo194961
Chickasaw189344
Jasper181138
Holmes172068
Clay166837
Tallahatchie157235
Stone152525
Clarke148162
Calhoun141322
Smith130026
Yalobusha123335
Walthall114537
Greene113729
Noxubee113026
Montgomery112036
Carroll106822
Lawrence106817
Perry105131
Amite102126
Webster96824
Tunica89021
Claiborne88825
Jefferson Davis88430
Benton85823
Humphreys84724
Kemper80920
Quitman7139
Franklin70617
Choctaw63713
Wilkinson59825
Jefferson56821
Sharkey45217
Issaquena1606
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 441170

Reported Deaths: 6660
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson646811007
Mobile31620572
Madison28310217
Tuscaloosa21525275
Montgomery19954332
Shelby19335132
Baldwin17256189
Lee13205107
Morgan12639142
Etowah12107181
Calhoun11521206
Marshall10471123
Houston9009164
Limestone834981
Cullman8274124
Elmore8214110
DeKalb7894107
Lauderdale7871107
St. Clair7854130
Talladega6481112
Walker6036183
Jackson601545
Colbert549994
Blount547386
Autauga537662
Coffee462464
Dale410785
Franklin374950
Russell357515
Chilton345473
Covington339680
Escambia335444
Tallapoosa3149109
Dallas313296
Chambers304270
Clarke300236
Pike262531
Lawrence254155
Marion253761
Winston233642
Bibb222348
Geneva211547
Marengo209331
Pickens199631
Hale185244
Barbour182738
Fayette178629
Butler174460
Cherokee165731
Henry159925
Monroe152421
Randolph146436
Washington142327
Clay130546
Crenshaw124045
Macon122337
Cleburne121825
Lamar120222
Lowndes115536
Wilcox107922
Bullock103528
Perry100018
Conecuh97922
Sumter90527
Greene77923
Coosa63618
Choctaw51924
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