The State of Mississippi reported a record-breaking 1,092 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases this afternoon, blowing past and nearly doubling the previous record. The Mississippi State Department of Health also announced five more deaths, bringing the total since the pandemic hit the Magnolia State to 999.
Though deaths are down from their peak, MSDH for the second day in a row reported that a record number of Mississippians are hospitalized with a confirmed coronavirus case, with 536 hospitalized on Wednesday, up from 523 on Tuesday. Another 219 Mississippians are in hospitals with “suspected” COVID-19 infections, MSDH reports.
Over the weekend, Mississippi’s hospitalization rate reached second in the nation among all states, trailing only Arizona, where hospitals are already overwhelmed.
On Tuesday, Mississippi State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said MSDH is “anticipating an absolute disaster in the fall,” citing clusters of cases popping up across the state as Mississippians relax social-distancing measures following Gov. Tate Reeves’ decision to end statewide lockdowns in May.
“Prepare for not being able to get into the hospital if you have a car wreck, (to) have a heart attack and there not be a ventilator to put you on,” Dobbs said in an interview with Nick Judin of the Jackson Free Press.
When the State reported 611 new cases on Tuesday, it was the biggest one-day increase in new cases until now. Before today, Tuesday’s report was the first time the Mississippi State Department of Health had confirmed more than 500 novel coronavirus cases in a single day.
In a tweet this afternoon, Gov. Reeves acknowledged the somber milestone.
“1,092 new cases today. They’re mostly in young people who may not get deathly ill—but who could easily debilitate loved ones,” he wrote. “I don’t know how to be more clear: Coronavirus is not gone just because you give up. It can still overwhelm us.”
In April, Mississippi Gov. Reeves created Restart Mississippi, a commission of 16 state business leaders and corporate executives to advise him on reopening the state’s economy and ending lockdowns that began in March as the virus spread throughout Mississippi. A Mississippi Free Press examination of campaign-finance documents found that Restart Mississippi members, their fellow executives, and the companies and associated PACs they represent combined have contributed more than $760,000 to Reeves since 2008, when the new governor was still the state treasurer.
With the commission’s guidance, Gov. Reeves began re-opening businesses across the state and easing social-distancing guidelines in May, with a broad reopening on June 1.
On its website, MSDH cautions that “anyone with symptoms of fever, severe cough or severe chest pains—especially those who are older or in poor health—should make arrangements for testing with their doctor or one of the many healthcare providers now performing testing.” MSDH maintains a list of testing centers, including free drive-thru testing locations and dates.
The Mississippi Free Press has an interactive map showing diagnosed coronavirus cases and confirmed deaths across the state, with county-by-county numbers from the prior day updated each morning.