Coronavirus took the lives of four more Mississippi residents, state health officials reported Tuesday morning, and the number of cases in Pike County rose to 17.
Meanwhile, Gov. Tate Reeves implemented a shelter-in-place order in Lauderdale County, including Meridian, until April 14.
The order went into effect at 10 p.m. Tuesday and is intended to curb the rate of transmission in a county that’s seen a rapid increase in the number of confirmed infections over the prior three days, State Epidemiologist Paul Byers said at a press conference.
Citizens were urged not to make a run on grocery stores in the area, because those are considered essential services and will remain open, Reeves said.
Reeves said his advisers and officials with the State Department of Health are considering other communities as potential flashpoints in need of similar action. Data from healthcare providers and state officials will determine where and if additional orders are enacted.
“Everything is moving very rapidly. It’s ever-evolving,” Reeves said. “This is the first shelter-in-place order that we are issuing from the state, but I do not anticipate that it will be the last.”
Byers said the restrictions will allow health department officials to measure their overall effect in decreasing viral transmission.
Reeves applauded efforts by doctors in Jackson and Hattiesburg for their work to improve access to testing.
“Our strategy of identify and isolate is dependent upon our ability to test,” Reeves said.
The state government does not immediately intend to shut down or implement checkpoints along the Mississippi-Louisiana state line, but the idea is being considered, Reeves said.
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The Mississippi State Department of Health reported 937 confirmed coronavirus infections and 20 deaths statewide Tuesday.
The number of confirmed infections in Pike County increased to 17 on Tuesday morning. Hospital officials have indicated they are waiting upwards of 10 days to receive results from the state lab, which may contribute to a lag in case identification.
Summit officials enacted a curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. in line with countywide orders. One resident tested positive for the virus, Mayor Percy Robinson said Tuesday in a statement.
“As the nation struggles to cope with the spread of coronavirus, I ask that the citizens in the town of Summit remain calm, follow the directions that have been given out by the media, be cautious at all times, and maintain good hygiene practices,” Robinson said.
Robinson said essential personnel going to and from work are exempt and that the town is accepting water payments at a drop box at town hall and online.
“If you do not need to be out during those hours, I encourage you to remain in your homes,” he said. “Remember, a nation that prays together remains together.”
The Jr. Food Mart in Liberty is closed until further noticed after the company sent all employees home for quarantine Monday evening.
Mayor Pat Talbert said two employees were experiencing suspected coronavirus symptoms. Management closed down the convenience store until test results return, and the store is being professionally santized in the meantime.
Amite County’s numbers remain at four confirmed infections and one death. Wilkinson County, a possible hot spot, had 14 confirmed infections and two deaths Tuesday morning. Lincoln County had 11 confirmed infections, Lawrence County had five, Walthall County had five and Franklin County three.
Statewide, deaths are reported among patients in Amite, Bolivar, De-Soto, Hancock, Harrison, Holmes, Lafayette, Lee, Leflore, Montgomery, Panola, Perry, Rankin, Sunflower, Tippah, Tunica, Webster and Wilkinson counties.
Hinds County surpassed DeSoto County, where residents were exposed in a Shelby County, Tenn., outbreak earlier this month, and has the most confirmed infections statewide. DeSoto County had 84 confirmed infections and Hinds County had 90 Tuesday morning.
The Jackson metro area is experiencing a formidable outbreak. Madison County has 42 and Rankin County has 40.
Also, 4,454 people have been tested by the Mississippi State Department of Health public health lab in Jackson, 407 of whom saw positive results. An unknown number of people have been tested by private labs.
In neighboring Louisiana, the number of confirmed infections increased to 5,237 Tuesday amidst one of the largest outbreaks across the United States: 239 have died and 1,355 were being treated in hospitals. Of those patients, 438 were on ventilators in ICU.
The New Orleans metro area is the site of a major outbreak, with Orleans Parish reporting 1,834 infections and 101 deaths.
Nearby Washington Parish has 28 cases and one death, and Tangipahoa Parish has 25 cases and no deaths.
The United States surpassed China Thursday evening and stood as the country with the most confirmed infections worldwide with 174,467 Tuesday morning — 3,440 people died, 932 in New York City alone.
Friday marked the greatest increase in confirmed infections worldwide since the recorded start of the outbreak in January with 67,400 new cases identified.
There were 838,061 confirmed infections worldwide Tuesday morning.