COVID-19 continues to surge, including regional jail

George County Sheriff Keith Havard said they were awaiting the results of more than 350 coronavirus tests that were performed at the George Regional Jail on inmates and employees. Currently, seven employees and six inmates have tested positive.

UPDATE

Since our story went to print on Tuesday evening to George County sheriff has now confirmed that have been more than 200 positive cases of COVID-19 as of the result of the almost 400 tests that were performed in recent days. The positive cases include inmates and employees. Two individuals were taken to the hospital for treatment but were released. At this time the sheriff states the cases are considered mild. The jail remains on lockdown.

Covid-19 has been found in the George Regional Jail. State health department employees were in Lucedale last week testing employees and both county and state inmates in the George Regional Correctional Facility, according to George County Sheriff Keith Havard. Health department testing began after seven employees and six state inmates tested positive to the disease. Havard said all those testing positive have already recovered or are recovering from the infection. With the health department testing, he expects more inmates will yield positive tests. Those results have not yet been received. In the meantime, the jail facility is being quarantined and all inmate transport has been curtailed. To date more than 16.5 million cases of the disease have been confirmed worldwide, with roughly a quarter of them in the U.S. There have been 148,076 deaths in the U.S. attributed to the virus which originated in Wuhan, China late last year. While the U.S. has the most confirmed cases of the virus of any country, with the possible exception of China, the death rate in the U.S. is far lower than many other countries, according to the John Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. The United Kingdom has the highest death rate at 15.2 percent of confirmed cases. The death rate in the U.S. is 12th among the 20 countries currently most affected by the disease. The U.S. death rate is 3.4 percent of confirmed cases. Mexico has the second highest death rate of the 20 countries, with a mortality of 11 percent of confirmed cases. In the U.S., the hotspots for the virus have migrated from the Northeast and the West Coast to the Gulf Coast and the Southwest. Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana have all seen surges of the disease. In Mississippi, the number of new cases reported each day has been running nearly six times as many as were reported each day in April. On Sunday, July 26, a total of 653 new cases were reported in the state, a welcome change from the previous week which saw an average of about 1,200 new cases each day. So far there have been 52,957 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, with 1,501 of those resulting in death. Nearly 443,000 Mississippians have been tested for the virus. The infection rate is continuing to run about 11 to 12 percent of the population tested. The death rate, at roughly 2.8 percent is below the national average. George County has reported 247 confirmed cases, with five deaths attributed to the virus. One outcome of the disease has been an overwhelming amount of opinion, information and misinformation about the virus posted on social media. Monday, Governor Tate Reeves attempted to address some of the misinformation in an interview with the Clarion Ledger. Reeves said there are seven myths that need to be debunked. They are as follows: 1. COVID-19 is no worse than the common flu. The two diseases are very different viruses, according to Reeves, although the symptoms are similar. The death rate for COVID-19 is running about three times that of the common flu. 2. Do masks help? "The prevailing question should always be: what is the cost of this measure compared to the benefit? We believe the benefit of wearing masks is pretty high. Nothing's perfect, but it's good. And the societal cost - compared to shuttering schools and businesses - is infinitely higher," Reeves said. 3. Children and coronavirus as they return to school. Data shows children fare better against the virus than adults. To date, 17 children under the age of 5 have died of COVID-19 nationwide, according to the CDC. The New York Times points out that's a little under a third of the number in that age range who have died of the flu this year. Children are also less likely to catch and spread the virus, according to experts, leading to a guideline from the American Academy of Pediatrics that advocates a return to school. In Mississippi, there have been 2,404 positive cases in residents 10 years of age and younger. So far, there have been no deaths, according to the Health Department. What Is It That Keeps Most Little Kids From Getting COVID-19? Young children have consistently been slow to catch and spread COVID-19. Experts have a few hunches why. 4. The death rate is falling. One reason for the relative drop off, health experts have said, is that most new cases have occurred in a younger demographic, the Clarion Ledger reported. Many of those cases have been traced back to social gatherings where younger Mississippians have gathered — without masks and proper social distancing. Younger Mississippians are less likely to develop serious symptoms from the virus. This doesn't prevent them from spreading it to those who are most vulnerable such as a parent or grandparent.

5. Testing misconceptions. Any Mississippian who tests positive the first time for coronavirus is counted in the department numbers,” said State Health Officer, Dr. Thomas Dobbs. “It's a one-time only scenario. Dobbs notes if one person is tested 1,000 times, it still counts as one case. Another misconception is that additional testing is the sole reason for an increase in the total coronavirus counts. Testing by the Health Department and private labs has increased steadily since the outbreak began. However, the surge in recent cases far exceeds the increase in testing. 6. Other testing myths. Antibody tests, which reveal if a person has had the virus, are counted as probable cases if they come back positive, according to State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers. "Positive antibody cases are investigated, and if symptoms and exposure are consistent with a case, they are counted as probable cases," he said. Those who have coronavirus and die of other health maladies, say a heart attack, aren't counted, he added. Finally, family members of those who test positive are not considered to have the virus unless a separate test confirms it. 7. Don’t count on herd immunity. Herd immunity occurs when a large portion of a community (the herd) becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. As a result, the whole community becomes protected — not just those who are immune. Reeves points out the state would need to see about 1.2 million residents with the infection to achieve the threshold. And he admits that's on the low side. The governor used a hypothetical 40% threshold. Health experts say the percentage is closer to the 70 percent to 80 percent range. That equates to about 2,250,000 of the state's 3 million residents. Reeves explained: "To get to 40 percent infections, we’d need 3,187 new cases every day for a full year from today. We would need to TRIPLE our worst day — every day — for a year.

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