JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - In one week, Mississippi saw its biggest spike in coronavirus cases: more than 3,800 cases, many of these concentrated in more populated areas of the state than health experts observed since the pandemic began here in March.
Weeks after the first case in Forrest County on March 11, the state’s rural counties quickly began to have higher rates than any other area; some of the first “hotspot” declarations by state leaders involved rural counties.
Of Thursday’s 1,092 new cases, more than one third came from counties considered metropolitan areas.
“I heard it but didn’t believe it. I had to go Google it myself. I thought it was a joke. Like, how did we jump that high in one day?” said Brandon resident Jasmine Brown.
One metric the Mississippi State Department of Health uses to determine the virus’ impact are seven-day averages of new cases over time.
Counties that have already somewhat controlled the coronavirus threat, like Attala County, look like a bell curve now.
That’s not what Hinds or DeSoto counties look like; their recent rise in new cases far overshadows how many people contracted the virus early on.
In Madison County, the number of new cases has started climbing again, though still below the county’s initial peak in mid-May.
Residents in Hinds County say they know why the numbers keep climbing.
“They’re all at the beach, they’re in bars, they’re in shopping centers without masks. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been to the store and you look around, and half the people in the store don’t have masks on, and then they look at you like you’re crazy because you have a mask on,” said Jackson resident Jane Hildebrand.
The latest data from the health department shows more than 4,800 people ages 18-29 have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since March 11, a number that doubled in just four weeks.
As it stands, that age group has the biggest number of cases, eclipsing all other ages since early May.
Another Jackson resident, Carolyn Davis, said she thinks people her age think they’re invicible during the pandemic.
“I feel like until it happens to them, until it’s too late, people won’t take it serious. This is all avoidable. Just stay inside,” Davis said.