JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Mississippi’s top health officials separated fact from fiction regarding COVID-19 on Tuesday.
More than 500 cases were reported by Mississippi Department of Health on Tuesday, with more than 90,000 cases in the state since March.
Mississippi State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs and State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers debunked some rumors regarding the virus, like masks being ineffective and hospitals getting more money for reporting more cases.
Some also accused MSDH of manipulating its daily coronavirus case and death counts.
The agency has made corrections from time to time, adding or subtracting cases and deaths after investigations confirm someone’s county of residence or whether COVID-19 played a role in a death.
“For the death numbers, we use multiple mechanisms. Some of them are from hospitals, and sometimes they come through Vital Statistics, or death certificates. Sometimes there is a delay in that process," Dobbs said. "We are very thorough. We try and make sure, with deaths, we’re probably so thorough -- we have a pretty restrictive mechanism we’re doing -- we feel like we’re probably undercounting the deaths.”
Dobbs alluded to this on social media, posting on Twitter last week that Mississippi has around 3,000 excess deaths, or more deaths than this time last year.
Byers, when asked about a vaccine, said MSDH will not recommend a vaccine until they are confident that it is safe. He said there will be a number of vaccines that will appear as work continues on one, but they will only recommend a vaccine that has been tested thoroughly.
Dobbs said people do not need to test negative before returning to work. He said if someone tests positive and isolates for 10 days, they will no longer be contagious but will likely continue testing positive, possibly for months afterward.
Dobbs also addressed head-on the misconception that the flu has killed more people than coronavirus.
“COVID-19 is far more deadly. The flu does kill people every year. It kills tens of thousands of people every year. It does not kill 200,000 people every year, thank goodness,” Dobbs said.
Dobbs was asked about Halloween and said he did not have a definitive answer. He acknowledged going outdoors is best, but was concerned about the ‘candy transaction’ from hand-to-hand. But he said they will discuss Halloween further after weighing the options.
When asked about masks, Byers did not have a definitive answer on when it will be safe to go about life without masks. He says its likely to be a while before it’s OK to go without masks again.
Dobbs also took issue with people saying that medical experts and the state’s health department want more cases of coronavirus in the state.
“One of the things that I find so laughable in some of the social media stuff, they think that we want to have more COVID. Heavens, we have a lot of work to do without COVID. I haven’t had a single day off since March. I don’t think Dr. Byers has either. We’re doing this for you guys, right? This is our job to make Mississippi a healthier place," Dobbs said.
You can watch in full below: