State officials see cause for hope in Mississippi COVID numbers for the last few weeks.

The numbers reported on Monday by the Mississippi State Department of Health – 276 new cases and 11 deaths – were the lowest Monday numbers since May, Gov. Tate Reeves noted during Monday’s press briefing.

“This is a remarkable opportunity that, if we make the right decisions and really focus on limiting transmission at this moment, we can have an entirely different trajectory than we might otherwise,” said State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs. “We do have some challenges going into the next few weeks with schools opening up, because we are seeing exposures happening within the schools and with colleges, especially.”

Some massive college parties have been reported, and those will likely lead to outbreaks, he said.

Dobbs encourages residents to “double down, mask up, maintain your distance, avoid groups.”

As of Monday, 71 counties are reporting COVID cases within a school district. Cases number 245 among teachers and 199 among students, with 589 teachers and 2,035 students in quarantine, he said.

As of Monday afternoon, Magnolia Regional Health Center had 21 current in-patients being treated for COVID-19.

The seven-day rolling average number of cases in Mississippi peaked at 1,390 on July 29 and is now below 700 as the state continues under a mask mandate.

“We’ve seen three consecutive weeks of positive movement,” said Reeves. “The question is: Can we be disciplined enough as individuals, at least for the next two weeks, to drive it down even further? We’ve cut it in half. That’s good. Let’s not rest on our laurels like we did in June.”

With fall on the horizon, Dobbs encouraged residents to plan to get a flu shot – especially those who think they don’t need it.

“We don’t want to have a bad combination flu season and COVID season, so please get your flu shot,” he said.

Pharmacies are beginning to stock the vaccine.

“If you’re young and healthy and you’re not worried about the flu, get the flu vaccine,” said Dobbs. “We have young people who die from the flu every year.”

It is possible, according to the CDC, for an individual to have both the flu and COVID-19 at the same time.

The state on Monday launched a new initiative to expand COVID-19 testing to all Mississippi teachers, including those without symptoms.

“We’re going to have 16 testing teams regionally throughout the state,” said Dobbs, “and they’re going to rotate at the county health departments and do drive-thru testing that will be available on an ongoing manner.”

That is expected to become available next week.

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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