Don’t let your guard down in fight against coronavirus, Miss. officials warn

Gov. and state health officials switch to offense in COVID-19 fight

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Mississippi leaders are ramping up the response to the coronavirus outbreak. The Governor and other state leaders described a resource constrained environment when we were here for a briefing two days ago.

They say some Mississippi companies have stepped in to fill some of those gaps. Because of that, the state’s implementing a more aggressive plan.

The call to social distance is to slow the spread of the virus, but state officials say the new plan implemented by the Department of Health will help us get ahead of it.

“I believe it will allow us to shift from playing defense to playing offense so that we can deal with the challenges that come before us in the days and weeks ahead,” said Gov. Tate Reeves.

“I want you to see a lot more cases next week because we’re finding them,” added Dr. Thomas Dobbs, State Health Officer.

When it comes to finding those cases, the new plan is more aggressive not only with testing but what happens after those results. One of those being mandating those who test positive to stay home.

“We’ll do a one-on-one visit, issue, in a nice way, an isolation order so people understand," explained Dobbs. "And people are usually very receptive to it. And there are clear legal implications of fines and even imprisonment if there’s lack of compliance.”

And also doing a more thorough job of finding all the others they may have potentially infected.

“So that we then identify that second tier of individuals that are likely to be the next generation of infection," Dobbs said.

The health department will also do more investigations into outbreaks.

“If you look at what drives disease transmission, especially with populations that are most vulnerable... it’s going to be when disease gets into a nursing home or maybe you have a disease transmission within a funeral,” Dobbs noted.

Finally, they’ll use the data breakdowns to focus on community outbreak response. They know some cities and counties have different levels of resources available. And some may need to take more steps than just social distancing.

“Should the public health experts make a determination that there is a region, or a county, or a city that needs a shelter-in-place order, I am prepared to enter it,” added Governor Reeves.

Officials also add that they don’t want Mississippians to let their guard down with precautions, thinking this has gone on for awhile.

They say it is just ramping up.

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