Walthall County has one municipality, fewer than 15,000 people and a whole lot of COVID-19 cases for its size.

According to state health data released Friday, Walthall County has had 425 coronavirus cases confirmed since the virus was detected in Mississippi 18 deaths, both of which are relatively high numbers for a county its size.

Walthall County has about a third of the popluation of Pike County yet more than half as many COVID-19 cases and deaths. By comparison, Pike County has 808 cases and 30 deaths.

Amite County, population 12,326, has 193 cases and four deaths.

Walthall and Lawrence counties both reported one new COVID-19 death for the second day in a row on Friday as Mississippi reported its highest single-day death toll with 52 deaths.

Though it isn’t easy to predict which areas of the state may or may not flare-up and become coronavirus hot spots, new and unpublished guidance from the federal government shines a light onto the situation in Mississippi as it stands today.

A White House document dated July 14 identified Mississippi as a coronavirus “red zone,” meaning that there are 165 new infections per 100,000 people on a weekly basis and also as being in the red zone for the overall ratio of coronavirus tests which return positive at over 10%. The national average rate of infection, according to the document, is at 119 per 100,000 people.

Health officials identified 1,168 new coronavirus infections Friday afternoon and an additional 52 deaths, the highest single-day total experienced since the outbreak of the disease.

“Hospitalizations and deaths have risen sharply over the past two weeks,” the document reads. “Recent sharp increases in test positivity in multiple counties in northwest Mississippi are concerning for further increases in cases in that region.”

McComb was named in the report as being a red zone locality, along with Jackson, Gulfport, Hattiesburg, Laurel and Starkville. Cities named as red zones were identified as having the highest number of new cases on a rolling basis over a three-week period.

In the week ending July 14, Mississippi experienced a 41% increase in the rate of coronavirus deaths per 100,000 people.

In the same week, the rate of coronavirus testing per 100,000 people actually declined by 31% compared to the previous week, but the rate of positivity among coronavirus tests increased by over a percent.

Counties and municipalities in the red zone are recommended to tell people to wear a mask at all times outside the home and maintain physical distance from others; limit social gatherings to 10 people; and close bars, nightclubs or gyms.

Gov. Tate Reeves on Thursday added eight more counties to a list mandated to wear masks while in public, reduce the amount of seating available at restaurants and bars and limit the number of people allowed to attend indoor or outdoor events and social gatherings.

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