Gov. Tate Reeves placed mask mandates on 19 more counties Tuesday, including Lincoln and Lawrence counties.

Half the state’s counties — 41 of 82 — are now under Reeves’ executive order, which requires masks to be worn when six feet of social distancing can’t be maintained. It also limits indoor gatherings to 20 people and outdoor gatherings to 100.

Lincoln County reported 327 cases over the past 14 days, exceeding the minimum of 200 to be added to the mandate. Lawrence County reported 102 cases over that period, which is more than 50 cases per 10,000 residents, meeting the per capita threshold to trigger the restrictions.

Mississippi’s number of COVID-19 cases increased by 8,741 in the past week. That includes 1,972 new cases reported just on Saturday, the state’s highest single-day increase since the pandemic began.

There were 149 new COVID-19-related deaths reported by Mississippi State Department of Health from Wednesday, Nov. 18, through Tuesday, Nov. 24.

The total number of cases that have been reported in the state reached 144,544, and the death toll now stands at 3,729.

Reeves and State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs continued to urge masks, small groups and single-household outdoor gatherings for Thanksgiving.

“I’m not going to stand here and tell you that you can’t (gather), but I will tell you that the risk is greater today than it has been at any time since August,” Reeves said.

Dobbs noted the danger in mixing age groups at Thanksgiving. There has been a 2.3% COVID-19 fatality rate for those between 50 and 64. The fatality rate for those over 90 has been 27%.

“As we come up on Thanksgiving, we’re going to be mixing young folks with middle aged folks and older folks,” Dobbs said. “It’s extremely important for everyone to realize that you don’t have to be feeling symptoms of coronavirus to spread it. We’ve had multiple superspreader events where someone said, ‘This is just a sinus infection,’ or ‘This is just allergies.’ ”

As virus cases began to surge in schools earlier this month, the breakdown by age of COVID-19 patients in some counties reflected a trend of more pediatric cases.

Although MSDH’s reports do not show specific numbers of cases per age group, Pike, Lawrence, and Lincoln counties all showed a spike in cases among patients ages 5-17 for the week ending Nov. 14.

That age group accounted for the most new cases that week in those three counties. There were around 25 kids reported in Pike, almost 40 in Lincoln and almost 20 in Lawrence.

Ages 5-17 was the group accounting for the most new cases in Amite that week too, but not due to a spike. There were around five new Amite cases in that age group, with other ages close behind.

As of Monday, Nov. 23, there were two active outbreaks in long-term care facilities in Lincoln County and one active outbreak each in long-term care facilities in Amite and Lawrence counties.

Since the pandemic began, the total numbers of cases and COVID-19-related deaths among residents in long-term care facilities by county were as follows: Pike, 98 cases, 27 deaths; Amite, 15 cases, two deaths; Franklin, four cases, one death; Lawrence, 26 cases, two deaths; Lincoln, 166 cases, 36 deaths; Walthall, 67 cases, 13 deaths; Wilkinson, 20 cases, five deaths.

Heading into the week after the record-breaking Saturday, local hospitals were able to keep some intensive care unit beds open.

As of Monday, Southwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center was treating 13 COVID patients, four of whom were in ICU. There were 12 ICU beds open of the 24 total there.

King’s Daughters Medical Center was treating 11 COVID patients, four of whom were in ICU. There was one ICU bed available of KDMC’s total six.

Field Health Systems was treating three COVID patients; Franklin County Memorial Hospital was treating two; Lawrence County Hospital was treating five; and Walthall General Hospital had no COVID patients.

Statewide there were 946 COVID patients hospitalized, 223 of whom were in ICU. There were 148 ICU beds available in the state of the 876 total.

As of Sunday, 102 of Mississippi’s COVID patients were on ventilators.

Since last Wednesday, Pike County reported 57 new COVID-19 cases. Over that same time, Amite added 52, Franklin added 34, Lawrence added 51, Lincoln added 151, Walthall added 31, and Wilkinson added 23.

There was one new COVID-19-related death each in Walthall and Lincoln counties.

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