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Reeves: New Corrections and Public Safety Leaders, Still No Nursing Home Names

Gov. Tate Reeves is expected to announce new heads for two of Mississippi state agencies today, as State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs urged caution as COVID-19 continues to spread across Mississippi. Photo by Mississippi Department of Transportation.

Gov. Tate Reeves is expected to announce new heads for two of Mississippi state agencies today, as State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs urged caution as COVID-19 continues to spread across Mississippi. Photo by Mississippi Department of Transportation.

Gov. Tate Reeves is expected to announce new leadership for the Mississippi Department of Corrections and the Department of Public Safety today, bringing new oversight to the two state agencies. “Even in the face of this historic pandemic, we’ve got a lot of other important work to do. Protecting Mississippians is a big job with lots of elements,” Reeves tweeted this morning.

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Photo courtesy MSDH

The news, which WLBT first reported, means a replacement for MDOC Interim Commissioner Tommy Taylor, who replaced Pelicia Hall in January amid a concerning spate of deaths in Mississippi’s corrections system. Reeves will make the announcements at his daily coronavirus presser this afternoon.

The Mississippi State Department of Health reported 263 cases yesterday, with 16 new deaths. A new total of 11,967 Mississippians have received COVID-19 diagnoses, and 570 Mississippians have died from ensuing complications in total.

Tuesday afternoon, State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs gave an update on the state’s first COVID-19-related case of multi-system inflammatory syndrome, or MIS-C. Dobbs said the previously reported case is now confirmed, but that the child has recovered and been discharged from hospital care, and that “certainly ... the kid will get fantastic medical care going forward.” Dobbs also reported multiple other suspected cases of MIS-C in the state.

MSDH continues to reject requests to identify the state’s 87 long-term care facilities affected by COVID-19. Dobbs maintains that privacy issues prevent the disclosure of facility names. “I know that there's been a lot of interest in the Department of Health releasing specific nursing-home names. But I just want to reinforce that it's really a privacy issue … a resident of a nursing home, that is their address. That's where they live,” Dobbs said at yesterday’s press event.

Reeves called for increased testing as long-term care facilities face an upward trend in cases and deaths. “Our goal is to test almost 27,000 in long-term care facilities over a 14-day period, and we're not halfway through that, but we've already started that process,” the governor said. Of the 570 people who have died from COVID-19 since the beginning of the crisis, 281 were residents of long-term care facilities.

Reeves and Dobbs also urged Mississippians to continue adhering to social-distancing guidelines in the weeks ahead. “It's impossible to know for sure if someone you're around has a virus. So you must assume that everyone you encounter in the public could possibly be contagious with coronavirus social distancing and masks can prevent coronavirus transmission,” Dobbs said.

Read the JFP’s coverage of COVID-19 at jacksonfreepress.com/covid19. Get more details on preventive measures here. Email state reporter Nick Judin, who is covering COVID-19 in Mississippi, at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @nickjudin. Email state intern Julian Mills at [email protected].

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