Mississippi health official 'exhausted' by virus response

State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs

Mississippi’s top health official says he is exhausted trying to convince people in the state to take the coronavirus seriously.

Posted: Nov 24, 2020 4:11 PM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi's top health official said he is exhausted trying to convince people in the state to take the coronavirus seriously and follow public health guidelines.

“I'll just to confess to you guys, I'm exhausted trying to convince folks to do stuff. It’s just going nowhere," Dr. Thomas Dobbs, Mississippi's state health officer, said Monday during a meeting with members of the Mississippi Senate.

Mississippi, with a population of about 3 million, has reported more than 144,500 confirmed coronavirus cases and at least 3,729 deaths from COVID-19. Hospitalizations are rising, with 946 people hospitalized in Mississippi with coronavirus Monday, compared with 560 on Nov. 4, according to the state Department of Health.

Dr. LouAnn Woodward, vice chancellor and dean of the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s School of Medicine, has called on the governor to reinstitute a statewide mask mandate to prevent further spread of the virus. Woodward said last week that no intensive care unit beds were available at the hospital, Mississippi’s only level-one trauma center.

“I think we have reasonable evidence to believe that the county-by-county approach is not working,” she said during a Monday news briefing. Gov. Tate Reeves has instituted a mask mandate in 22 of Mississippi's 82 counties with the highest number of new cases of coronavirus.

Reeves is expected to hold a briefing to update the public on the state's coronavirus prevention efforts Tuesday afternoon.

As state health officer, Dobbs has been running the state's effort to track the virus, put preventative measures in place and test residents.

He has also been the face of the state's coronavirus response, speaking at many of Reeves' televised coronavirus press briefings and online forums with the University of Mississippi Medical Center, the state Department of Health and the Mississippi State Medical Association. Throughout the pandemic, he has repeated the same message: masking, social distancing and avoiding large social gatherings will prevent the spread of the virus.

Speaking to the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee on Monday, he said there is no “collective will" among the public to prevent the virus.

He said church and school outbreaks are rising throughout the state. Schools, in particular, have become a major problem — in general, schools have been unwilling to cut back on extracurriculars and social activities, Dobbs said.

“We have chosen, very clearly, to prioritize social events over disease transmission,” he said. “Part of that’s because we are tired of it and there has been some effort to minimize the severity of the illness.”

The Mississippi State Department of Health on Tuesday reported 665 new confirmed cases of coronavirus and new 53 deaths. Thirty-one deaths occurred between Nov. 13 and Nov. 23 and were identified later using death certificates.

While most people who contract the coronavirus recover after suffering only mild to moderate symptoms, it can be deadly for older patients and those with other health problems.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 500709

Reported Deaths: 9977
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34312538
DeSoto32080403
Hinds31924627
Jackson24482379
Rankin21983390
Lee15530235
Madison14574280
Jones13838242
Forrest13447251
Lauderdale11985316
Lowndes11030188
Lamar10508135
Pearl River9503237
Lafayette8547139
Hancock7728126
Washington7422157
Oktibbeha7142131
Monroe6769176
Warren6682176
Pontotoc6659102
Neshoba6635206
Panola6520131
Marshall6462134
Bolivar6313148
Union602494
Pike5817152
Alcorn5667101
Lincoln5433135
George496779
Scott472698
Tippah469081
Prentiss466881
Leflore4657144
Itawamba4633105
Adams4586119
Tate4584110
Copiah448592
Simpson4445116
Yazoo443987
Wayne439772
Covington428794
Sunflower4237105
Marion4225108
Coahoma4159104
Leake408288
Newton381679
Grenada3706108
Stone359764
Tishomingo359692
Attala331489
Jasper329965
Winston314291
Clay307976
Chickasaw299667
Clarke292494
Calhoun279346
Holmes267887
Smith263850
Yalobusha233747
Tallahatchie227151
Greene219048
Walthall218763
Lawrence212440
Perry205356
Amite205155
Webster202746
Noxubee186640
Montgomery179656
Jefferson Davis171542
Carroll168838
Tunica159439
Benton148738
Kemper141941
Choctaw133426
Claiborne132437
Humphreys129238
Franklin120028
Quitman106428
Wilkinson105139
Jefferson94534
Sharkey64020
Issaquena1937
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 817054

Reported Deaths: 15320
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1145501922
Mobile724601333
Madison52172694
Shelby37533348
Baldwin37192547
Tuscaloosa35044606
Montgomery34067734
Lee23195245
Calhoun22205476
Morgan20754376
Etowah19811497
Marshall18317302
Houston17345411
St. Clair15983339
Cullman15383292
Limestone15298198
Elmore15161284
Lauderdale14225294
Talladega13802276
DeKalb12622260
Walker11162369
Blount10162175
Autauga9954146
Jackson9844182
Coffee9195191
Dale8880185
Colbert8826201
Tallapoosa7071198
Escambia6764130
Covington6699183
Chilton6627161
Russell627959
Franklin5955105
Chambers5567142
Marion4982126
Dallas4936200
Clarke474583
Pike4722105
Geneva4566126
Winston4502103
Lawrence4296117
Bibb424086
Barbour356676
Marengo337789
Monroe331463
Randolph328763
Butler325696
Pickens315682
Henry311965
Hale311088
Cherokee301760
Fayette291879
Washington251351
Cleburne247360
Crenshaw244375
Clay241768
Macon232363
Lamar222047
Conecuh185853
Coosa179739
Lowndes174564
Wilcox167939
Bullock151644
Perry138340
Sumter132738
Greene126644
Choctaw88127
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