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MSDH issues new public guidance as COVID cases soar

As COVID-19 cases surge in Mississippi and hospital bed space continues to diminish, the Department of Health has issued new guidance to Mississippi residents in an effort to limit the spread of the virus.

Announced during a press conference with State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs and State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers, the order calls on Mississippians to avoid any and all social gatherings that involve “individuals outside of the nuclear family or household.”

The order recommends that Mississippians only participate in work, school or other absolutely essential activities while avoiding the following activities: 

  • Social events or parties
  • Family gatherings outside of the household or nuclear family
  • Weddings
  • Funerals (other than close family and preferably outdoors)
  • Sporting events
  • In-person church services

This morning, the MSDH reported 2,457 new cases of COVID-19—by far, the state’s largest one-day rise. During today’s press conference, Dr. Dobbs stated that non-essential social activities are undermining the state’s efforts in reducing transmission.

“We’re almost to a vaccine that looks very effective and very safe, we’ve got to just have a little bit of discipline right now, or else we’re going to see a lot more funerals,” Dr. Dobbs said.

Dr. Dobbs and Dr. Byers also echoed a sentiment expressed by Dr. LouAnn Woodward, the Vice-Chancellor at UMMC, that ICU beds across the state are scarce.

Large Thanksgiving gatherings were continuously discouraged, but health experts expect numbers to continue to rise as a result of a lack of adherence to those warnings.

“We’re not at our peak,” Dr. Dobbs warned. “We’re rapidly ascending to a peak that no one knows what it’s going to be. We’re way higher in our daily case counts now and our hospitalizations are growing at a rate that is absolutely terrifying. So, where is this going to end? Well, it’s not going to end at least for weeks. If we did everything perfect today, it’s going to be a week or two before we would even see an impact of that because we’re still going to be processing all of the people who are exposed, who are going to get sick and who are going to die. Without a doubt, I think we are headed into the darkest period of the coronavirus in Mississippi.”

Dr. Dobbs also expressed his frustration with misinformation being spread when it comes to “inflated” case numbers. After being told that a doctor was claiming the same positive case can be counted multiple cases, Dr. Dobbs gave a heated response.

“What a bunch of bull crap…One person is one case. If the doctor tests the person 3,000 times, it’s one case,” he exclaimed.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is preparing to shorten the length of the recommended quarantine length from 14 days to 10 days after exposure without the presence of symptoms. That goes down to seven days with a negative test. Dr. Byers stated that the MSDH will continue to review these new recommendations. In the meantime, the MSDH continues to recommend a full 14-day quarantine period.

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