Analysis: 11 more Mississippi counties could face mask mandates, restrictions soon

New data from state's health dept. also shows how many cases come from specific outbreaks

Analysis: 11 more counties could be added to mask mandate

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - While Gov. Tate Reeves said additional Mississippi counties could see restrictions as the coronavirus pandemic intensifies, he stopped short of adding any to the thirteen announced last week.

A 3 On Your Side analysis of new case data from the Mississippi State Department of Health shows eleven counties -- Bolivar, Covington, Forrest, Humphreys, Montgomery, Panola, Sharkey, Simpson, Tallahatchie, Tate and Walthall -- that could face restrictions soon, based on the methodology provided by Reeves last week.

For a county to be considered, it would need at least 200 new cases in a two-week period or 500 cases per 100,000 people in that same period.

“We’re monitoring those numbers every single day. We’re not going to throw one on and take one off every day, so we’re going to give time. But what I would tell you is that if you’re concerned about more economic hardship, if you’re concerned about slowdowns and shutdowns, the best way to guard against that is to wear a mask in public,” Reeves said Tuesday during a COVID-19 briefing.

This week, MSDH released more information -- for every one of the state’s 82 counties -- showing where the cases are coming from.

In Neshoba County, for example, new cases were primarily driven not from outbreaks at long-term care facilities, but rather instances of transmission at businesses, social events and other public gatherings, also labeled as “non-LTCF outbreaks.”

Analysis: 11 more Mississippi counties could face mask mandates, restrictions soon
Analysis: 11 more Mississippi counties could face mask mandates, restrictions soon (Source: WLBT)

Those cases over time look very different in Hinds, Madison and Rankin counties, because most can’t be tied to a specific outbreak.

The new information also appears to back up assertions from MSDH last week that protests in June were not tied specifically to a rise in COVID-19 cases.

For example, one week after the protest in Jackson where approximately 4,000 marched against police brutality and systemic racism, MSDH data indicates fewer than 25 cases associated with non-LTCF outbreaks.

Analysis: 11 more Mississippi counties could face mask mandates, restrictions soon
Analysis: 11 more Mississippi counties could face mask mandates, restrictions soon (Source: WLBT)

Hinds and Rankin counties saw dramatic increases in LTCF outbreaks from June 21 to 27.

But the takeaway, state health officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said, is that the vast majority of cases have no specific flashpoint, meaning it could happen anywhere.

“It means people are getting it from just being out. I mean, they might be picking it up at a store or a restaurant, or at a party or at church. It’s just everywhere, and we’re unable to link it to any specific thing. It’s just, it is a virus that is everywhere around you,” Dobbs said.

Analysis: 11 more Mississippi counties could face mask mandates, restrictions soon
Analysis: 11 more Mississippi counties could face mask mandates, restrictions soon (Source: WLBT)
Analysis: 11 more Mississippi counties could face mask mandates, restrictions soon
Analysis: 11 more Mississippi counties could face mask mandates, restrictions soon (Source: WLBT)

3 On Your Side asked Dobbs about non-LTCF outbreaks in Madison and Rankin counties, since the summaries from MSDH show those occurred far more often than in Hinds County.

“We do have a large number associated with the poultry industry, and I suspect that’s a lot of that. I do suspect, at least for the Madison especially, that’s gonna be a lot of those cases and it could be for Rankin as well,” Dobbs said.

The new county-by-county summaries also offer age group breakdowns and graphs illustrating cases and deaths by race.

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