JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - With nearly two thousand new coronavirus cases in just two days, a near-record number of deaths and the full brunt of the virus’ impact yet to be felt in Mississippi, Gov. Tate Reeves still doesn’t think the state should shut down.
“The vast majority of Mississippians are small business owners and folks who work in small businesses, whereby if they don’t show up to work, they don’t get paid. If they don’t get paid, they can’t put food on the table for their kids and grandkids,” Reeves said Tuesday during his daily press briefing.
Reeves was responding to guidance from public health experts on a national level, including Michael Osterholm, who currently serves as the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.
“Right now we are experiencing a national forest fire of COVID that is readily consuming any human wood that’s available to burn,” Osterholm told National Public Radio on Tuesday.
State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said closing the economy could make a difference, but only in the short term.
“There’s no doubt about it [working], but it has to be something sustainable,” Dobbs said. “One of the things that’s very important to think about is what’s driving transmission in Mississippi. It’s family. Please stay away from your extended family. Those are opportunities when we let our guard down.”
Dobbs said people should limit their interaction to members of their immediate family for the foreseeable future.
“If we can’t stop it transmitting between family members, we’re really going to be in trouble,” Dobbs added.
Tuesday’s numbers show the second-highest daily number of new deaths since the pandemic began, and Dobbs anticipates those increasing in the next month because deaths typically lag behind new coronavirus cases for several weeks.
Also expected next week: the first wave of new hospitalizations from last week’s deluge of new cases.
Dobbs has estimated 17 percent of all coronavirus cases end up having to be hospitalized within two weeks.
Based on last week’s 9,666 cases, more than 1,600 people would need hospital beds around the state, presenting perhaps the most significant test yet for our hospital sysem.
In the meantime, Reeves said Mississippians need to do their part to socially distance and keep from spreading the virus even more.
“For the next two weeks, [we] really [need to buy] into the notion that we are going to take care of ourselves and take care of each other by not doing things that we don’t need to do,” Reeves said.