Tuesday, September 29, 2020
Mississippi is still under a statewide mask mandate, per Gov. Tate Reeves’ executive orders, in spite of a hoax circulating on social media claiming a new order supersedes them, officials from the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency are warning.
“A ‘letter’ claiming to be from the governor’s office is circulating on social media,” the agency posted on its Facebook page on Sunday. “The letter is a FAKE. Stay up to date with the latest executive orders posted on the Secretary of State’s website. And any major changes will be addressed in a press conference and an updated executive order.”
The crude hoax is aimed at businesses requiring customers to wear masks on premises. Mask use is the precaution health experts credit with Mississippi’s recent success at limiting the growth of coronavirus in the state. Currently, Mississippi’s “Safe Return” order is scheduled to expire on Wednesday, Sept. 30, though the governor is likely to extend the restrictions and safety measures, as he has nine times before.
The Mississippi State Department of Health announced 589 new cases of COVID-19 today and 36 fatalities. Mississippi’s total number of confirmed cases is now 97,638, and its total confirmed fatalities are 2,957. The current seven-day rolling average of new cases is 517. Data from the state’s public schools from last week are not yet available.
Hospitalizations, too, are stable and far down from where they rose at the peak of the crisis. On Thursday, Sept. 24, the state dipped below 500 total confirmed cases in its hospitals.
Today, in an afternoon tweet, State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs shared the most recent excess fatality numbers, likely to be the best snapshot of COVID-19’s real mortality rate. The data showed 3,891 excess deaths in 2020, but a markedly positive trendline. Mississippi’s daily death rate is receding, declining from August highs that followed the largest spike in the pandemic for the Magnolia State.
The most recent weekly data point shows Mississippi’s excess deaths only 38 above averages from the same week in previous years. “Getting close to baseline,” Dobbs tweeted. “Let's keep up the effort. #MaskUpMississippi”
Still, the state health officer warned of a “long road ahead,” sharing news of a Lancet report that revealed only 10% of dialysis patients had detectable COVID-19 antibodies. This is another addition to an overwhelming list of evidence that herd immunity will not be a sufficient strategy to contain coronavirus in Mississippi—or anywhere else.
Read the JFP’s coverage of COVID-19 at jacksonfreepress.com/covid19. Get more details on preventive measures here. Email state reporter Nick Judin at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @nickjudin.