COVID-19: Week of August 18 – 24, 2020
- Mississippi had 5,993 new COVID-19 cases and 153 new deaths this week, for a total of 78,405 cases and 2,248 deaths since reporting began on March 11, 2020. The rate of new case increase (8.3%) rose this week, probably due to schools reopening. This ends three weeks of decline. This week, statewide deaths were up 7.3% compared to 9.6% previously, making the third straight week of declining rates in deaths.
- Mississippi’s rate of 755* deaths per million of population was a 7.2% increase over last week, a decline from previous weeks. However, remains in the 8th most lethal position, including DC. Mississippi is only surpassed in deaths per million by LA, NY, NJ, MA, CT, RI, and DC. Deaths per million in MS exceed the national average of 546 by 209 deaths per million population.
- Mississippi’s rate of 26,344* total COVID-19 cases per million remains the 4th highest in the nation behind only Florida, Arizona and Louisiana.
- Statewide Hospitalized Patients:
- Once again, the MSDH has only reported hospitalization figures for 5 days of this weekly reporting period.
- It appears that the state may be continuing its downward trend to its 4th week. With only 5 of 7 days reported the number of daily hospitalizations (867) was below last week’s figure ((945).
- After climbing for 6 weeks, the daily average of COVID-19 patients requiring ICU dropped to 310 patients last week, and has dropped significantly for the five reported days (274).
- Patients on ventilators also climbed for six weeks previously to an average of 189 daily, dropped a bit last week to 182, and is at 160 for the five reported days this week.
- STATEWIDE Long Term Care (LTC) facilities:
- As of 8-23, 173 LTC facilities statewide reporting active coronavirus outbreaks. This number has fluctuated daily for the past week. The MSDH definition of “active outbreak”** has changed recently, making it difficult to compare current and previous statistics.
- Statewide, LTC facilities accounted for 5.4% (down from 7.2%) of new cases (324 of 5993 cases). This drop breaks three weeks of upward trending.
- Total deaths’ percentage in LTC was down another 0.5% to about 42.3% ( 951 of 2248), continuing its downward trend as deaths have risen in the general population. However, LTC facilities accounted for 35.3% (54 of 153) of all new deaths this week, essentially the same as last week. This statistic continues to fluctuate, so not yet a definable trend statewide.
NORTHEAST MISSISSIPPI (NEMS): Cases and deaths rising fast
- As of August 23, Northeast Mississippi had 1,154 new COVID-19 cases, for a total of 11,110 cases, an increase of 11.6 %, down from 12.1%. This is the 4th week of downward percentages, but NEMS continues to outstrip the statewide averages. Statewide, new cases were up only 8.3% from the previous week.
- The 15 counties of Northeast Mississippi have a lower percentage of non-white population than any other region in the state. Nationwide, non-white populations suffer from COVID-19 infections at a higher rate than Caucasian populations. However, Northeast Mississippi with a predominantly white population has for several weeks out-paced the state in deaths and infections. Clearly, in the case of our region, it is a matter of behavior — disregard for safe practices — not race, that is to blame.
- NEMS’s total deaths reached 285, having increased by 33 this week. There were net increases of 14 in general population and 19 in LTC facilities.
- NEMS Long Term Care (LTC) facilities:
- On Aug. 23, 13 NEMS counties had active outbreaks in residents in 32 LTC facilities. This is up from 11 counties with 28 facilities last week.
- Northeast MS’s 13.1% increase in deaths is about 1.8 times (79%) higher than the state’s 7.3%. Counties with averages higher than the state’s 7.3% average increase are:
- Lafayette (52%), Tishomingo (50%), Itawamba (40%), Alcorn (20%), Lee (12%), Marshall (10%), Prentiss (9%).
- NEMS LTC facilities had a total of 19 new deaths for a total of 146. This is the second week of faster rises in the death rate in NEMS LTC.
- LTC facilities accounted for 57.6% of northeast Mississippi’s new deaths (19 of 33). This is a very steep decrease from 78% last week. This figure is now fluctuating and may be affected by statistical adjustments.
- In NEMS, LTC facilities accounted for 11.6% (134 of 1154) of new COVID-19 cases, up sharply from last week’s 4.7%. This statistic continues to fluctuate fairly wildly.
- Area counties listed with active outbreaks are:
- Lafayette with active outbreaks in 5 facilities
- Itawamba and Lee with 4 each.
- Alcorn, Monroe, and Prentis with with 3 each.
- Chickasaw, Marshall, Tishomingo with 3 facilities each
- Calhoun, Clay, Tippah and Union with 1 facility
- Benton and Pontotoc have no current active outbreaks
- Benton and Tippah counties still have had no LTC facility residents deaths attributed to COVID-19.
The Take-Away For This Week
Statewide, new coronavirus cases and deaths rates are continuing to slow down, continuing to rise at slower rates.
- Many sources attribute this slow-down to the governor having finally mandated masks and social distancing statewide, largely in connection with the opening of schools. Some officials expect this flattening to disappear within 2-3 weeks, as a result of schools and colleges opening. According to statistics released on 8-17, well over 2600 students and teachers were quarantined because of COVID-19 exposure at school to the 450 positive cases.
There are now no health orders regarding elective procedures in the state.
- State Health Officer Dr. Dobbs said if you want to have an elective surgery, go ahead and do it now because “it’s not hard to imagine” the state having “a real problem” in a few weeks. This due to “schools, colleges and really, really bad judgement coming together in a triumvirate of disaster.” He said he is not surprised that those in college have poor judgement and declares that an uphill battle, but says he is “so disappointed” in high school parents.
Mississippi remains the 8th most lethal state (in deaths per million population)
- Even with its dropping curve in cases and deaths, MS ranks high in lethal statistics. Many more populous states in the northeast US had disastrous problems early on with coronavirus, but stringently mandated masks, distancing, etc. and have largely maintained their control. Mississippi’s cases per million are continuing to outstrip many other states.
Statewide hospitalization statistics all appear to be decreasing at this time.
The state wide curves are now flattening to a greater degree than in Northeast Mississippi’s 15 counties.
- Northeast Mississippi (NEMS) continues to have a significantly higher rate of increase in overall new cases than the state as a whole, at 11.6% compared to the state’s 8.3%. It also has a much higher rise of deaths, 13.1% compared to 7.3% statewide.
The entire state is still mandated for wearing masks, along with mandates for social distancing in businesses, etc.
- See Executive Order 1516, which is currently in effect until the end of August.
Vulnerable people in northeast Mississippi should be taking extra precautions. Check your county statistics and know how they stand. Daily reports are available by county from the MSDH.
As always, if you are vulnerable, continue to take care of yourself in any way you see fit. If you are able, give assistance to someone who needs it.
*statistics from WorldOMeter as of day of posting
**Updated COVID-19 outbreak definition in LTCFs: To conform with revised national guidelines, an outbreak is now considered to be a single confirmed COVID-19 infection in an LTCF resident, or more than one COVID-19 infection in employees or staff in a 14-day period.
MS Executive Orders: https://www.sos.ms.gov/Education-Publications/Pages/Executive-Orders.aspx
Covid-19 coronavirus, school reopenings