Pike County registered 30 more coronavirus infections — the highest one-day total yet — and another death Wednesday as infections continued to soar throughout the South.

Mississippi was the third-sickest state in the nation in terms of per-capita cases, with only Florida and Louisiana recorded higher rates of infection in the week ending July 26.

Wednesday marked the highest number of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 treatment in Mississippi, at 982, further straining the state’s hospital system.

There were nine hospitals throughout the state with no remaining beds in intensive care units, State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said this week.

Statewide, health officials reported 1,505 new coronavirus infections and an additional 20 deaths on Wednesday.

Illnesses reported in that period were most likely experienced by the patients two weeks earlier, caused partly by a delay in getting test results.

There have been 781 coronavirus infections and 30 deaths identified among Pike County residents since March. A recent surge here has put the county at risk of falling under a countywide mask mandate by order of the governor.

Gov. Tate Reeves said earlier this week that he would add nine more counties to a list under strict coronavirus mandates. Walthall County, which also recorded another death on Wednesday, was added to the list last week. Reeves had not released the list Tuesday, and he did not hold a daily press briefing on Wednesday.

Mandatory mask orders went into place in the cities of Magnolia and McComb on July 15 and 18, respectively, and their effectiveness could be confirmed if cases drop over the next week or two.

Elsewhere, Amite County’s case count grew to 188 and four deaths, an increase of nine since Friday.

Pike County has far surpassed the number of infections identified in neighboring Lincoln County, which had reported more infections for weeks. There have been 698 infections in Lincoln County and 38 deaths, 27 of which were residents of long-term care facilities.

Meanwhile, the Adams County Sheriff’s Office is reportedly closed to the public after five employees and two inmates fell ill with the virus, which could cause an issue for law enforcement officers in Pike County.

Departments throughout the county use Adams County’s juvenile detention center for juvenile offenders.

Four nursing homes in Pike County — The Claiborne, Courtyard Rehabilitation and Healthcare, McComb Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and Camellia Estates — all have had coronavirus infections, accounting for 62 cases and 14 deaths since the outbreak began.

Courtyard Nursing and Rehabilitation has seen 12 staff members fall ill along with 21 residents, while McComb Nursing and Rehabilitation has had cases among 22 of its staff and 36 residents.

Camellia Estates has had three staff members and no patients diagnosed, and just one staff member of The Claiborne has been confirmed to have the virus.  

Dobbs said Monday afternoon that cases among family members spreading to the elderly has been a driving cause of coronavirus transmission in Mississippi and that it has put residents of long-term care facilities at risk.

Health department data indicates that there have been 197 infections in long-term care facilities as of Wednesday, compared to 96 a month ago, when the Mississippi State Department of Health reported a severe outbreak in such facilities.

“More older Mississippians in long-term care facilities are being put at risk and dying from COVID-19,” a State Department of Health news release said. “Keep extra distance between yourself and others and use a face covering to protect those around us.”

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