New State Health Officer discusses status of COVID and monkeypox

Published: Aug. 4, 2022 at 10:22 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Mississippi has a new state health officer, Dr. Dan Edney. His first week on the job comes amid two major public health concerns.

It’s back-to-school time in a lot of districts across the state of Mississippi. But for at least one district, they’re back to square one...going virtual because of COVID.

Magee High School started back last week.

“Since returning students from summer break, we’ve had 17 students that have tested positive for COVID,” said Magee High School Principal Bill Broadhead. “And according to our district’s policies, if you have three or more students in three more classrooms to test positive, then that’s when we go to virtual leave for seven days.”

We asked new State Health Officer Dr. Dan Edney about where things stand with COVID and any concerns about students returning.

“We do have a concern,’ said Edney. “We’ve gone through this Omicron BA.5 wave. Thankfully, it was not a spike, but it’s been a sustained wave.”

But also maybe some light at the end of the tunnel.

“Dr. Byers has told me this morning that it looks like we may be starting to see the first evidence of a decline so optimistic that the numbers will cool off and school is getting started,” added Edney. “Maybe we’ll be able to push ahead.”

For Magee, they had taken extra steps...but still...

“When we had our first set in our first classroom that we detected, our district nurse put us back in a mask policy for the rest of the month,” noted Broadhead. “So, when the last two classrooms were hit, we were actually under a mask policy. Everybody was wearing a mask.”

And then, there’s the question of monkeypox risks in the state.

“We’re now up to six cases in the state, but it’s not exploding,” said Edney. “And I think we have a good plan to try to contain it as much as we can. In terms of the school, we’re working hard for it not to spill over. And so I really think our kids are not at risk, they’re certainly at no risk right now.”

What if you’re outside of a school setting?

“You’re not going to get monkeypox at Walmart,” Edney explained. “You could get COVID.”

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