In light of the latest COVID numbers, “more aggressive action” from the state may be forthcoming, according to State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs.

Following the discontinuation of the mask mandate, “People have not maintained mask behavior like I had hoped,” the doctor said during a talk with reporters Friday afternoon.

The state had 1,116 new cases and nine new deaths counted on Friday, following 1,322 new cases on Thursday. Dobbs said the governor “is extremely concerned, and so we would expect that there may be some additional action taken from his office in the early part of next week.”

With a new surge in cases and flu season approaching, strain on the health care system is a major concern.

“We really need the public – businesses, churches, everyone – to engage and understand the seriousness of our current situation,” said Dobbs.

In some of the trends accompanying the current uptick in activity, State Epidemiologist Paul Byers said the state is seeing increased clusters of cases associated with church attendance where proper precautions are not taken.

“In some counties, we are starting to see 65 and older as our fastest-growing age group,” he said.

“We’re also seeing some growth in the 50- to 64-year-old age group. That is concerning, because we know those individuals are at highest risk. When you look overall statewide, however, our fastest growing population is now the five-year-old to 17-year-old age group.”

Reflecting the increase in cases, the percent positivity number has risen from 8.5 percent during the last week of September to 9.5 percent during the first week of October.

“Indoor social events are what’s driving the transmission of coronavirus in Mississippi,” said Dobbs.

“We would advocate for people not having indoor social events. If you’re going to do something, do it outdoors. Otherwise, we would recommend not doing it at all. Even if you’re going out to eat, outdoors is safer.”

There remains a “very high risk of death” for people who get coronavirus and then require hospitalization, he said, with 10 to 11 percent of those cases ending in death.

The state currently has a dozen hospitals with 10 percent or less ICU capacity and six in the Jackson metro area with no ICU capacity, he said. As of Friday, the state had 146 COVID patients in ICU units and 75 on ventilators.

Staff Writer

Jebb Johnston is a 1991 Alcorn Central High School graduate and a 1995 Ole Miss journalism graduate. His primary beats are city and county government.

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