Harvard health official: Miss. will become number one in the nation for COVID-19

Updated: Aug. 3, 2020 at 11:57 AM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Director of the Harvard Global Health Institute Ashish K. Jha predicts that Mississippi will become number one in the nation for COVID-19 based on numbers per capita.

“Mississippi will become [the] nation’s #1 in new cases/population. Already #1 on test [positivity],” Jha wrote on Twitter.

In a series of tweets, Jha highlighted several issues that he believes are contributing to the rising number of positive cases.

Jha first addressed the state’s COVID-19 testing along with hospitalizations and death rates.

“First, data. Compared to two weeks ago, Mississippi testing [is] down 8% while cases [are] up 37%. So that means test positivity is up. Way up. Actually [the] highest in the nation at 22%. Hospitalizations are up [and the] daily death toll [is] up nearly 2X in [the] past 2 weeks.”

Despite the increased numbers of cases and deaths, Governor Tate Reeves does not think another state shut down is necessary.

“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 stated last week during a press brief.

Jha goes on to suggest in another tweet that because retail stores, bars, and restaurants remain open, without many restrictions, this contributes to the spread of the coronavirus.

“Much of Mississippi remains open. Bars, restaurants are open with only modest limits. Retail [stores] are largely open. No statewide mask mandate (but do for many counties). Many schools are struggling to figure out how to open soon.”

Governor Tate Reeves has not issued a statewide mask mandate but has enforced a mask mandate for 31 of 82 Mississippi counties.

Reeves has slightly tightened restrictions for bars, recommending that bars stop selling alcohol between 11:00 p.m. until 7:00 a.m. However, bars and restaurants may still operate at 50% capacity, but they must update floor plans to ensure 6 feet distance between groups, and limit 6 people per table.

Jha also mentioned that schools are struggling to reopen. It was recently reported that the Corinth School District, which was the first school district to reopen in the state, has already had someone in the district test positive for COVID-19.

In his final tweet, Jha states that he believes that Mississippi will soon be number one in the country for COVID-19. He also believes that if certain restrictions are enforced and followed this may result in a lower number of cases. If this happens, then he says children may be able to return to school.

At this moment, Jha does not believe that schools should reopen.

“[Mississippi] can’t open schools now. They’ll just shut down. If MS wants kids in school, [the] recipe is known: stop indoor dining/bars/gyms, [issue] statewide masking, and fix [COVID-19] testing. Then, maybe, kids can go to school safely.”

The state has reported 60,553 positive cases and 1,703 deaths as of August 1.

View Director of the Harvard Global Health Institute Ashish K. Jha tweets below:

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