The Mississippi State Health Department Held a press conference just one day after the first case was reported in the state.
In attendance were Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann and Speaker of the House Philip Gunn. Governor Reeves is still out of the country in Spain with his family but Director of MSHD Dr. Thomas Dobbs said he would be returning tomorrow.
“Governor Reeves and his family will be back in Mississippi tomorrow. The Governor has remained in constant contact with Dr. Dobbs and MSDH throughout the week and is ready to continue working closely on the state’s response the moment he touches ground,” said Renae Eze with the Governor’s office.
The first and currently only case in Mississippi was located in Forrest County. Authorities say the man began having symptoms and confined himself to his home as to not get anyone else sick. He had traveled to Florida, which could indicate it was contracted there He is currently being treated.
Dr. Dobbs said it was an adult but is not over the age of 65, and not someone who was hospitalized. He is currently on home isolation.
We’ll have more details on Mississippi’s first #coronavirus case following our press conference at 11:00 a.m. tomorrow. Forrest County residents and all Mississippians are NOT considered at additional risk from this case, and should continue to practice basic protective hygiene.
— MS Dept of Health (@msdh) March 12, 2020
Dr. Dobbs gave statistics about the virus saying at this time it is still considered a mild virus, with a very low mortality rate. He also added that it seems like a low threat to children.
He urged basic hygiene action to stay healthy: wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, cough into your sleeve, if you feel sick stay home. If your symptoms progress stay home and contact your doctor.
According to the CDC the following symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure.
- Shortness of breath
The Dept. of Health currently has tests available. Dobbs added they will be streamlining testing where physicians can order them and it will be shipped directly.
You can stay up to date on information about the Coronavirus on the MSHD website listed HERE.
“Testing for COVID-19 does not mean they have COVID-19,” said Dobbs. “For any illness, if you’re sick stay away from gatherings, work and school. We need to make sure we aren’t transmitting sickness to other people.”
The IHL has announced that all Mississippi Universities will move to online classes after a week extension to spring break.
“The situation remains fluid and university plans are subject to change in response to new information and recommendations received,” Commissioner of Higher Education Dr. Alfred Rankins Jr. said. “We continue to work with the Mississippi Coronavirus (COVID-19) Preparedness and Response Planning Steering Committee and the Mississippi State Department of Health as we develop our plans for the coming weeks and months. Our goal is to mitigate the risks posed by the coronavirus while maintaining the quality and integrity of our instructional programs.”
Recommendations for visiting restrictions on nursing home and other care facilities:
- Discontinuing social activity
- Discourage all non-essential visitation
- Do not let anyone ill enter facility
- Postpone any group visits
- Visitors should practice proper hand hygiene
Recommendations for Community mass gatherings:
- Anyone over 65 with complicated medical conditions avoid gatherings
- Organizations having gatherings of over 250 advised to cancel
- Everyone should take precautions even with small number gatherings
Recommendations for Schools:
- Cancelling any mass gatherings or group assemblies
- Consider restrictions of athletic events
- No indication to close schools at this time
Recommendations for Dept. of Corrections:
- Effective immediately, temporarily suspending visitation in which MDOC inmates reside
- Attorneys and essential visitors will be allowed
Dobbs added that it is unclear how long these recommendations will last.
MEMA director Gregory Michel and the Dept. of Health are working closely to deal with the COVID-19 response. They have not identified any emergency response needs but are working to stay on top of it in the event it happens.
The Emergency Response level has been moved to a Level 1, something that has not happened since Katrina. Michel said that is not to cause panic, but a preemptive measure as the address the pandemic.
Dr. Dobbs said individuals who believe they may be sick should limit contact with individuals and quarantine themselves at home until they can receive treatment. He discouraged the use of the ER, since the exposure to others could be great.
Lt. Governor Hosemann said at this time there is no indication that the Legislative Session will be postponed. However, they do anticipate extra activities like guests in the rotunda will be limited. He said they will continue to follow the recommendations of the State Health Department and Dr. Dobbs moving forward.
“When you add school children who visit and people visiting from all over the state, I think it is wise for the public that they not be in a place with increased chances that it could spread,” said Speaker Philip Gunn.