The state health officer pointed to rising numbers in Alcorn County and 14 others as cause for concern this week.

Gov. Tate Reeves said on Thursday that he expects to issue new orders today putting restrictions on bars statewide and adding more counties to the 23 that currently have stricter orders such as a mask requirement in place.

Alcorn County’s case count climbed to 198 through Wednesday, and State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs on Wednesday tweeted charts including Alcorn County among a group of 15 with rapid COVID growth. The chart shows the county with a doubling time of 11.6 days. Also on the list are Prentiss County with a doubling time of 10 days, Tishomingo County doubling in 12.8 days, and Lee County doubling in 16.5 days.

The state added another 982 positive cases in the latest reported numbers.

“It’s not increased testing that’s driving this,” said Dobbs. “It’s more sick people that’s driving this. I challenge you to drive by some urgent cares and see what’s going on.”

He said it is within Mississippi residents’ own power to slow the spread of the virus by wearing a mask in public and staying home if possible.

“If everybody would just behave for two weeks, we’d see a difference,” said Dobbs. “But everybody wants to go do what we did before. People want to go play baseball and hang out with grandma and go to the concession stand. It’s maddening.”

In the numbers reported on Thursday, the state is at 975 hospitalizations with 278 in ICU and 163 on ventilators. Eight hospitals have no available ICU beds.

There are two pediatric patients in ICU because of COVID. Ten deaths have occurred in the 18 to 29 age group, including a 20-year-old this week. Reeves said the 0 to 17 age group is seeing the fastest rate of increase in cases.

He continues to be frustrated with people who are ignoring precautions and who believe that the numbers are “fake.”

“There were times in this pandemic when fear was really over the top,” said Reeves. “Now, the pendulum has really swung, it seems, in which we have too many people acting as if this virus doesn’t exist.”

Questions about kids heading back to school have been numerous in this week’s briefings.

“I think that we probably can educate kids relatively safely,” said Dobbs. “I don’t think we can have football stadiums full of people safely.”

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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