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.

Confirmed Cases: 118587

Reported Deaths: 3310
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds8050179
DeSoto728580
Harrison549185
Jackson480088
Rankin404686
Madison386194
Lee366582
Forrest311878
Jones296684
Washington2627100
Lafayette255043
Lauderdale2546135
Lamar231940
Oktibbeha204855
Bolivar203979
Neshoba1868111
Lowndes181962
Panola172040
Leflore170688
Sunflower164349
Warren156156
Monroe153873
Pontotoc150620
Marshall148430
Lincoln143359
Pike140656
Copiah139336
Scott127029
Coahoma125837
Union125825
Yazoo123434
Simpson123149
Grenada122939
Tate121039
Itawamba117226
Leake116342
Pearl River116360
Holmes115060
Adams109445
Prentiss109220
Alcorn104512
Wayne102722
George101719
Covington98829
Marion95943
Tippah94924
Newton87227
Hancock86828
Chickasaw86727
Tallahatchie85526
Winston85221
Tishomingo82741
Attala80527
Clarke77053
Clay71022
Jasper69617
Walthall64427
Calhoun63313
Noxubee60217
Smith60216
Yalobusha56416
Montgomery55823
Lawrence54414
Claiborne53916
Tunica53717
Perry52423
Carroll50312
Stone49114
Greene48118
Humphreys45117
Amite42813
Quitman4236
Jefferson Davis42112
Webster37813
Benton36710
Wilkinson34221
Kemper33315
Sharkey28715
Jefferson27910
Franklin2513
Choctaw2096
Issaquena1074
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 161537

Reported Deaths: 2718
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson23769383
Mobile17039318
Tuscaloosa10539141
Montgomery10435199
Madison946798
Shelby756365
Baldwin674369
Lee662465
Calhoun468962
Marshall445251
Etowah436552
Morgan426335
Houston421234
DeKalb351229
Elmore326558
St. Clair307042
Limestone295131
Walker285593
Talladega273937
Cullman260025
Lauderdale237143
Jackson221917
Autauga210331
Colbert208232
Franklin207732
Blount198825
Russell19763
Chilton190932
Dallas188127
Coffee182611
Dale180852
Covington176729
Escambia175331
Clarke138017
Chambers137047
Pike135514
Tallapoosa135387
Marion110331
Barbour10459
Marengo103522
Butler101541
Winston94313
Geneva9357
Lawrence87733
Pickens87418
Bibb85615
Randolph84316
Hale78030
Cherokee76114
Clay75812
Washington75412
Henry7286
Lowndes71728
Monroe66010
Bullock65017
Crenshaw61130
Perry5966
Fayette59413
Cleburne5779
Wilcox57112
Conecuh56513
Macon54120
Lamar5165
Sumter47721
Choctaw39412
Greene34616
Coosa2143
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