Sunday, March 22, 2020
This weekend just saw its second huge spike in novel coronavirus cases in Mississippi, continuing to spread throughout the state and jumping to 207 cases today from 140 yesterday from 80 the day before. New counties with cases include Montgomery (county seat: Winona), Oktibbeha (county seat: Starkville), Pontotoc (county seat: Pontotoc), Scott (county seat: Forest), Sunflower (county seat: Indianola), Tate (county seat: Senatobia).
These numbers mean that the COVID-19 cases jumped 75% from Friday to Saturday, 48% from Saturday to today, and 159% overall since Friday.
Only 24% of the positive cases are hospitalized, Mississippi State Department of Health indicates on its website, which is updated each morning with figures through the previous day.
Counties with the most known positive cases continue to be Hinds in central Mississippi (county seats: Jackson and Raymond) with 20 cases; DeSoto (county seat: Hernando) in northern Mississippi just below Memphis, Tenn., with 18 cases; Harrison (county seat: Gulfport) on the Gulf Coast with 15 cases; and Forrest (county seat: Hattiesburg) in south Mississippi with 11 cases.
Hinds County is a major college and university hub, including Jackson State University, where a student was an early-reported case. Forrest County is the home of the University of Southern Mississippi. Oktibbeha County joined the list today with two cases; its county seat Starkville is the home of Mississippi State University. Lafayette County, the home of the University of Mississippi in Oxford, added three cases today for a total of five positives.
Read breaking coverage of COVID-19 in Mississippi, plus safety tips, cancellations, more in the JFP's archive.
Yesterday, MSDH started including demographics in its figures, which continue to demonstrate that all age groups, especially adults over age 18, are susceptible to COVID-19. MSDH indicated yesterday that, as of March 20, the highest number of the initial 140 positive cases (not including today’s new numbers) were in the 40-49 age group, followed closely by 60-69 and 70+, which are tied in case numbers (meaning that 60+ has 26% of the total cases reported to date). The 18-29 age group has only three fewer cases than the top group for now.
The only person known to have died from COVID-19 to date is a Bay St. Louis barber, Howard Pickens, in Hancock County on the Gulf Coast, who was in his 60s. As of March 20, 66% of cases that MSDH has reported are women.
MSDH also reports the number of people tested to date for the virus in its own labs, but not private labs. Today, that number is up to 1,321. However, MSDH’s positive cases include results from private labs, so it is impossible from this data to know the correct percentage of how many people who are tested end up positive for COVID-19. A tentative percentage today from the numbers provided is about 16%.
The new map today shows that the virus cases are starting to close in on seven counties in east-central Mississippi where cases have not been reported to date: Neshoba, Kemper, Noxubee, Lauderdale, Newton, Jasper and Clarke.
This is a rapidly changing story in Mississippi. Follow @jxnfreepress on Twitter for updates.
Donna Ladd is the editor-in-chief of the Jackson Free Press serving the capital-city region of central Mississippi since 2002. She is also the co-founder of the newly launched Mississippi Free Press, a nonprofit statewide solutions-journalism site currently focusing on COVID-19 across the state. Read the JFP coverage (50+ stories) of the COVID-19 outbreak in Mississippi at jacksonfreepress.com/covid19. Email story tips for the JFP to [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @donnerkay.