611 new cases: transmission rate rising as public eschews precautions

NEMiss.news Dr. Thomas Dobbs on Mississippi surge in cases
MS State Health Officer, Dr. Thomas Dobbs addresses Mississippi's COVID-19 surge.
June 24th, 2020     Featured Health & Wellness

After several days of basically no reporting, followed by a “catch-up” report covering 5 days, the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) issued a 24 hour report today. The report contained a shocking 611 new positive coronavirus cases.

Until Tuesday’s report, the previous high was the 489 cases reported June 17, the last report before the MSDH shut down routine reporting until Monday of this week. This was 122 cases higher than the previous high of less than a week earlier, a 25% increase.

Mississippi State Health Officer, Dr. Thomas Dobbs discussed the situation today. He touched on several topics, including:

  • Dobbs apologized for the MSDH’s inability to distribute data for several days. He said their computer software is old and not designed for this process and was unable to handle the sheer volume of cases and attendant data. He decided to “take the heat” and shut down to get a workable situation.
  • The state’s rate of transmission of COVID-19 is growing, meaning that each infected person is currently infecting more than one other person.  If the transmission rate is under 1, the disease is shrinking; if the rate is over 1, the disease is growing. Mississippi’s rate is currently over 1, and rising.
    • The number of transmitted infections depends upon many factors having to do with the pathogen itself, like how infectious it is, and the susceptibility of exposed people, etc.
    • The amount of testing is factored in to calculating the transmission rate, but it is a separate issue, and does not explain the currently rising rate in Mississippi.
  • People are doing “silly things,” Dobbs says. They are not keeping social distance guidelines; they are not wearing masks, etc.
  • When asked whether it is time to mandate masks, Dobbs said that without “buy in” from community leaders and citizens, a mandate is doomed to failure. He believes some communities may get so bad that the citizens will decide it is time to “buy in” to precautionary measures. According to Dobbs, “Wearing masks is just the right thing to do.”
  • Additionally, Dobbs pointed out that there are already laws that spell out what should be done. He said, “Every time someone has a big party, they are breaking the law. The laws are there, but are not enforced and not followed.”
    • In Lafayette County, 80% of their cases are in people aged 18-23. There is a possibility that these cases could migrate up the age groups over time, affecting more vulnerable groups.
  • Dobbs said that he, personally, has about quit going to restaurants because it disturbs him to see employees without masks, customers too close together, etc. He urged people of conscience to “vote with their feet.”
  • When asked about the coming of the Fall, Dobbs expressed great concern. He believes that cases are likely to overwhelm hospitals and medical resources. There is a limited amount of medical facilities, equipment and expertise to be had.

What is the bottom line?

Mississippi is one of 17 states whose hospitalizations are surging and whose medical facilities are already strained. Hospitalizations are higher than in April, and expected to go even higher as long as the state’s rate of transmission is increasing.

The New York Times daily tracking map shows 26 states with rising Covid-119 cases over the past two weeks. Ten of those states are in the South, which was the first region to reopen businesses and public places.

Little attention was paid to the weak suggestions from the federal government that two weeks of “flattened curve” should precede opening the gates. Now, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee and others are in trouble.

Even the speedy re-opening could have been somewhat mitigated had Mississippi officials enforced the safety regulations that accompanied every Executive Order. Businesses didn’t even get a promise of support from the state in this.

Is there anyone in charge here?

The public took less and less precaution with each “Open ‘er Up” Executive Order that rolled out of the Governor’s office. At least two of those Executive Orders spell out the coronavirus precautions, not as mere suggestions, but as “thou shalts.”  Posting those orders should not be where the Governor’s responsibility ends.

Dr. Dobbs expressed personal reluctance to eating in restaurants, because it distresses him to see staff without masks, customers too close together, etc. He suggests that “people of conscience” vote with their feet and complain about those places.

As the chief health officer of the state, however, Dobbs could do more than be distressed. He could send an inspector to those restaurants and either elicit conformance to the current laws or shut them back down. Local police departments could break up large gatherings that are violating the law. University officials could take some responsibility for monitoring school related activities.

We know of one local business person who has endured a great deal of abuse from customers because of his requiring masks to be worn. We imagine there are more.

Clearly, segments of our government have made their decision: money over lives. Segments of the population have made their decision: what I want over what you need.

What needs to be done?

Dobbs says he “is not proud” of the way we are responding to this crisis.

What needs to be done is, as Dr. Dobbs says, “simple.” Stay home if you are sick. Make shopping trips as quick as possible. Wear masks in public; don’t crowd up; wash your hands often. Forego hand-shaking and hugging for the time being.

It is simple. It costs almost nothing. Sadly, results of not doing these simple things can be very complicated and will cost lives.

What we at NEMiss.news have already said many times bears repeating once more. We obviously cannot depend on the government to take care of everyone. Do what you have to do to take care of yourself out there.

 

Why do we all need to take precautions? NEMiss.news republished this excellent article on April 5th. It has been read on our site almost 55,000 times. We recommend you read it, copy it, pass it around. What’s coming: an epidemiologist speaks plainly   

 

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