State Health Officer warns of possible “explosive outbreak” of COVID-19 after holidays


JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) held a news conference on Tuesday regarding COVID-19 in the state.

State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs and and State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers discussed the spread of the coronavirus in the state. On Tuesday, MSDH reported 905 new cases and 36 additional deaths. Dr. Dobbs said a majority of the deaths in the state were preventable if people practiced social distancing and wore face masks.

Dr. Dobbs stated there has been an increase in demand for testing in the state recently.

According to Dr. Dobbs, there is an increase in stress in the state’s healthcare system. At this time, 821 COVID-19 patients are hospitalized in the state, and 207 COVID-19 patients are in the ICU.

There have been no significant shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) in the state. Dr. Dobbs said there will most likely be staff shortages, including ICU nurses and critical care physicians.

With the holidays approaching, Dr. Dobbs said this will be a vulnerable time for Mississippi because people from different age groups will mingle during gatherings with friends and family. He stated this could cause an “explosive outbreak” of coronavirus in the state if people don’t follow COVID-19 guidelines. Dr. Dobbs pointed to spikes in cases after Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Halloween this year.

According to Dr. Dobbs, transmission of COVID-19 in Mississippi is spreading through mass gathering events. During the week of November 6-12, the majority of the cases were linked to churches, family gatherings, sporting events and social events.

Dr. Dobbs and Dr. Byers encouraged Mississippians to follow the mask mandates issued by Governor Tate Reeves. Even through a majority of counties are not under mask mandates, Dr. Dobbs strongly recommended all Mississippians to wear face masks.

MSDH also updated its Isolation Order. If you are sick, know or think you may have COVID-19, stay home until:

  • At least 10 days have passed since your symptoms began, and
  • It has been at least 24 hours since you last had a fever, without using fever-reducing medication such as Tylenol (acetaminophen) or Advil (ibuprofen), and
  • Your symptoms have improved.

MSDH also added a Quarantine Order. If you have had close contact with someone who has COVID-19:

  • Stay home until 14 days after your last contact.
  • Check your temperature twice a day, and watch for symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Stay away as much as possible from those who could become very ill from COVID-19, such as older adults or those in poor health.
  • Consider getting testing for COVID-19, even if you do not have symptoms. Contact a testing provider near you, and let them know that you have been exposed.

Dr. Dobbs also discussed the recent developments with the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines. He said MSDH is awaiting early distribution of the Pfizer vaccine, which could possibly be in December. The vaccine would first go to health care workers and the most vulnerable.

On Monday, the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) announced an antibody treatment option is right around the corner for some patients.

Dr. Byers said the coronavirus has caused a significant impact on Mississippi’s schools. More than 14,000 students were quarantined during the week of November 9-14, compared to 9,000 the previous week. Dr. Byers said more than 1,000 students tested positive for the virus during the week of November 9-14, compared to the 500 or so positive cases during the previous week.

According to Dr. Byers, there were 70 new coronavirus outbreaks at schools last week. So far, 65 schools have gone virtual due to the virus.

Schools are required to report coronavirus cases to MSDH.


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