As bad as it’s been

National Guard medics collect COVID-19 test samples at the Pike County Health Department on Friday.

McComb Mayor Quordiniah Lockley defended the city’s mask mandate as COVID-19 infections rise at a rate similar to July’s peak.

Pike County’s average daily case count for this week was 11 cases, which is the highest it has been since mid-August, when the pandemic was rounding the end of its first peak. The county’s peak average daily infections was 17.6 in mid-July.

“The desire to continue their mandate versus the count demonstrates the wisdom of the leaders of our local municipalities,” Mayor Quordiniah Lockley said. “Even though we were ostracized on Facebook about this mandate, the fact is that the mask mandate that was done by the county and done by the municipalities helped to slow down the number of cases we had in Pike County.”

Besides McComb, Summit and Magnolia also have local mask mandates in place.

Lincoln County’s average daily cases this week have risen to a high of 26.

Lawrence County also surpassed its original record for average daily cases. This week’s average was 9.7. Its previous high was 7.7 during the week of July 25 to 31.

Gov. Tate Reeves let the statewide mask mandate expire on Sept. 30 but has since gone back to his “surgical” approach of placing restrictions on counties having trouble controlling the virus, the same tactic he used over the summer before ordering a mask mandate that expired Sept. 30.

As of Friday, 22 of Mississippi’s 82 counties are now under the governor's restrictions.

Lockley said he believes the state should go back to its statewide mask mandate.

“It is my opinion that the governor needs to not identify the county, but the state as a whole. Until we— all 82 counties — work as a unit, the state will not see a decline,” Lockley said. “We didn’t get leadership from the federal government and the same leadership has not been clearly displayed by the state.”

The state had one of its highest number of infections Friday, at 1,638. Similarly, the state’s daily case average is up to its third-highest level since the mid-July peak. This week’s daily average was 1,208, while the peak was a difference of less than a hundred cases at 1,297.

As of Friday, the state was 20 days out from Halloween and 17 days out from Election Day. The virus, on average, has an incubation period of three to 14 days.

“We can speculate on all of that,” Lockley said when asked if he believed the events were a factor in the rising cases. “However, many health officials have speculated ... crowds are the problem.

“Whether we have 10 or 12 people in our homes or 300 people at a ball game, we still need to do all those things that the Centers for Disease Control and the health department have advocated from the beginning until a vaccine has been established and distributed.”

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Southwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center again had beds available in its intensive care unit on Thursday and Friday after Mississippi State Department of Health reported no ICU beds available there Wednesday.

As of Thursday, the state reported that SMRMC was treating eight COVID-19 patients, two of whom were in ICU beds. There were five ICU beds left of the hospital’s 24.

“We are currently not at capacity,” SMRMC Chief Medical Officer Dr. Kevin Richardson said Friday. “We are all experiencing a continuing rise in our community case numbers in the coming weeks.

“Fortunately, we have the staff, supplies, and room availability to take care of those patients that require hospitalization.”

King’s Daughters Medical Center’s ICU was at capacity Thursday, with five of the six beds taken by COVID patients.

There were five non-ICU COVID patients also being treated in Brookhaven.

Franklin County Memorial Hospital, Field Health Systems and Lawrence County Hospital were treating one COVID-19 patient each on Thursday.

Walthall General Hospital had no COVID-19 patients that day, and no data was posted for Beacham Memorial Hospital.

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