Tuesday, May 19, 2020
Gov. Tate Reeves will provide guidance to the state’s churches today, in an attempt to help “safely resume” in-person services, the governor tweeted this morning. Those efforts are part of the ongoing reopening of Mississippi, even as the state’s spread of COVID-19 appears stable, rather than declining.
The governor has repeatedly described his instructions to Mississippi’s religious institutions as voluntary, tweeting today: “They were named essential services and never officially shut down: I don’t believe government can or should do that.”
The Mississippi State Department of Health’s daily report shows 27 new COVID-19 fatalities from Monday alone, with the deaths scattered across the state. MSDH reports no more than two deaths from any one county in Mississippi yesterday, despite the high statewide deaths. Mississippi’s new death toll from coronavirus is now 554.
The 27 deaths MSDH reports from May 18 may represent one of the highest single-day fatality rates since COVID-19 first emerged in the Magnolia State. However, MSDH previously undercut several high death totals with additional information from postmortem investigations. MSDH attributed significant portions of the high volume reports to previous weeks. Today’s death reports included no such note.
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Accompanying the new deaths were 272 new detections of COVID-19 statewide, bringing the case total to 11,704. MSDH’s most recent estimate of COVID-19 recoveries, from May 17, stands at 7,681. Today’s new report showed 117,760 total tests completed in Mississippi, with nearly 100,000 coming from private laboratories.
Current hospitalization trends appear stable, though the most recent data is still incomplete. The largest drop in hospitalizations, which MSDH reported on May 11, was later revised with complete data to show a much more modest decline in both confirmed and suspected cases.
Outbreaks in the state’s long-term care facilities are approaching 100. As of Tuesday, May 19, MSDH is still refusing to release the facilities with coronavirus outbreaks. The Pine Belt News is suing MSDH, demanding that it release names of long-term care facilities in Forrest County experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks. The lawsuit argues that the state health agency has provided no legal justification for withholding the information.