Pike County’s weekly average of new COVID-19 cases fell last week after a three-week incline.

That average was 4.4 new cases per day from Oct. 17-23, while the county reported an average of 8.3 new cases per day the week before.

From Saturday to Monday, Pike County added 10 new virus cases and reported no new deaths due to COVID-19. Other local counties reported new cases since Saturday, including Amite, four; Franklin, six; Lawrence, 13; Lincoln, 22; Walthall, two; Wilkinson, one.

The Mississippi State Department of Health reported 1,887 new virus cases and 25 new deaths statewide from Saturday to Monday.

Gov. Tate Reeves said Monday that Mississippi had the lowest “effective reproduction rate” in the U.S. at 0.9. That means for every 10 people in the state who have the virus, they infect nine.

“Mississippi has been slower than most of the states in our increases,” he said.

However, he added seven counties — Harrison, Madison, Jones, Marshall, Carroll, Leake and Benton — to his mask mandate. Residents in  those counties must wear face masks indoors where social distancing isn’t possible and limit indoor gatherings to 10 people and 50 people outdoors.

Those counties and the nine others Reeves listed last week will remain under those restrictions until Nov. 11.

The state currently has 580 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, 157 of whom are in intensive care units and 66 of whom are on ventilators. There are six hospitals where ICU beds are full, but Southwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center is not one of them.

As of Monday afternoon, MSDH reported that SMRMC had five confirmed patients with COVID-19, three of them in ICU beds. The hospital has 10 ICU beds still available.

Sate Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs also discussed Monday the safest ways for families to enjoy Halloween this year, noting that Halloween masks will not protect wearers or people around them from the virus.

“You need to have a cloth mask, a normal kind of mask that we use to prevent coronavirus,” he said. “A Hulk mask with holes in it is not going to help you at all.”

Wearing a costume mask over a cloth mask can make breathing more difficult, and the CDC warns against it, suggesting instead that revelers make the cloth mask part of their costumes.

He also encouraged trick-or-treating families to maintain physical distance and to regularly sanitize their hands after receiving candy.

Dobbs encouraged those who may be at higher risk to find activities to enjoy at home, like jack-o’-lantern carving or having a Halloween movie night.

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