Mississippi recorded 611 new cases of coronavirus Tuesday, shattering previous one-day records by more than a 100 cases, as health officials in Pike County are reporting an uptick in local infections, keeping in line with trends across Mississippi and the United States.
Of the 289 infections identified in Pike County since March, 11 were reported Tuesday.
Pike County has had 11 COVID-19 deaths — a figure that hasn’t changed in weeks.
Statewide, health officials reported 11 new deaths on Tuesday.
Southwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center Infection Preventionist Tammy Bacot said healthcare workers are still testing patients for coronavirus every day despite closing down the cough and fever clinic on Harrison Avenue.
Anyone who wants to be tested for coronavirus is encouraged to go to the breezeway outside of the emergency room at the hospital, where healthcare providers are waiting to screen and assess patients for coronavirus, strep throat and other ailments. Patients will remain in their cars for testing, unless their condition requires immediate treatment.
“It’s the exact same process as the cough and fever clinic, but it’s through the emergency room,” she said.
There are no strict rules determining which patients are eligible for testing.
In recent weeks, hospital staff have noticed an uptick in the number of patients presenting with potential coronavirus symptoms. The increase mirrors trends elsewhere in Mississippi and some officials attribute that to warm weather and COVID-19 fatigue.
“I think people are tired of COVID,” Bacot said. “We’ve relaxed the rules, opened up restaurants and gyms — and that’s a good thing, because the economy needed a boost.”
Although the economic jolt was badly needed, Bacot said community spread is ongoing as people’s attitudes about coronavirus change. She said people seem to be more willing to socialize in close quarters now than they had previously.
County health officials have not identified any one particular event or gathering that may have contributed to a spike in the number of cases. But the festivities of Memorial Day weekend may have increased community spread of the illness.
“You can get out — small groups and being outside is good,” Bacot said. “Sunlight helps kill the virus and the air disperses it.”
But she cautioned that people need to make a concerted effort to stay away from one another.
“Stay six feet apart and just be very aware of your surroundings,” she said
At the same time as Pike County is experiencing heightened viral transmission, Mississippi and nearly 30 states are reporting similar situations.
And while some counties remain less-affected than others, some are particularly hard hit. Amite County has reported just 76 infections and two deaths, Franklin County has reported 31 infections and two deaths and Lawrence County has reported 134 infections and one death.
But neighboring Lincoln County, which has been plagued by outbreaks in long-term care facilities, has recorded 384 infections and 32 deaths, 25 of which came from such facilities.
Pike and Lincoln counties are among the 12 jurisdictions with the highest number of recently identified infections and per-capita number of infections. Pike County is infected at a rate of 53 per 100,000 people and Lincoln County is infected at 70 per 100,000 people — higher than Hinds, DeSoto, Copiah and Harrison counties.