JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The Mississippi Department of Health announced 1,092 new cases of coronavirus Thursday, the highest numbers seen in the state since the pandemic began.
The highest single-day increase prior to Thursday was reported on Tuesday, when the state notched 611 new cases. State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs told The Associated Press then he feared the state was experiencing a surge.
“It’s not a joke," Dobbs said. "Really bad things are going to happen.”
States across the South from Florida to Texas are reporting a spike in cases. The number of new coronavirus cases per day in the U.S. stood near an all-time high Thursday at more than 34,000.
Mississippi — with a population of about 3 million — has had at least 24,516 cases and 1,016 deaths from the coronavirus as of Wednesday evening, according to the state Department of Health. The Health Department said at least 2,487 cases of the virus have been confirmed in long-term care facilities such as nursing homes, with at least 503 virus-related deaths in those facilities.
The drastic increase comes weeks after Mississippi officials began taking measures to reopen the state. Restaurants, bars, entertainment venues and movie theaters are among the businesses currently open with limited seating.
Dobbs said he doesn't think the new cases were were caused by the state opening back up too quickly. The real problem is a lack of concern for safety guidelines around the use of masks and the practice of social distancing. Dobbs said many of the new cases stem from community transmission of the virus from younger, asymptomatic people to their older relatives after attending social gatherings.
“I’m afraid it’s going to take some kind of catastrophe for people to pay attention,” he said. "When we were in the spring, people were clamoring to shut down and certainly we had a brief period of shelter in place, it did help, we certainly did flatten the curve. Now, we are giving away those hard fought gains for silly stuff.”
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the highly contagious virus can cause severe symptoms and be fatal.
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