Gov. Tate Reeves said new mandates requiring social distancing and mask-wearing could be on the horizon as COVID-19 cases begin to rise.
The state recently announced that it was again requiring hospitals in several counties to postpone elective surgeries to increase bed available, as COVID cases grow.
The announcement is one of what the governor said could be several new county-specific orders that come down to help stop the spread of the virus.
“The situation we have feared is upon us,” he said. “I want to be completely open. I want to be back to the 2019 normal, but we can’t. We’re trending worse, not better.”
In recent weeks, coronavirus cases have shot up dramatically. Today, 674 new cases were reported, including 30 deaths. Age ranges for those deaths are from 48 to 98, with a portion of them being in long-term care settings.
Meanwhile hospitals are seeing a strain on facilities and resources. On June 27, the state had about 490 people in hospitals with the virus. The latest number was 648, an increase of 260 in two weeks. Based on that trajectory, he believes hospitals could go beyond capacity in short order.
Reeves said the reason numbers were going up was because residents and businesses are not following state health guidelines.
“If you look at the orders we currently have in place with respect to social distancing guidelines, with keeping the number of folks who gather for social purposes at a limited number, we’d be having a different conversation today,” Reeves. “If everyone would follow the guidelines, we’d be in a different situation today.”
As for hospitals, Reeves said they have failed to leave a portion of hospital beds open to treat possible COVID patients, also leading to problems.
Reeves said there needs to be more public buy-in when it comes to following the rules. However, he didn't say how he would enforce measures.
"Many in Mississippi don't like being told what to do," he said. "We don't like being told what to do by people we didn't vote for last year. We don't like being told what to do by people we did vote for last year."
Meanwhile, the state is seeing an increase in COVID testing, a sign that more people are showing symptoms of the disease.
“As you go about your daily life, imagine every person you encounter has coronavirus, and, in fact, they could,” State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs said.
Dobbs said it’s not surprising that hospital capacity is being stretched, as people fail to follow social distancing rules and wear masks.
To date, 32,888 infections have been reported in the state, including 1,168 deaths. A total of 2,642 cases have been reported in Hinds county, along with 46 deaths, Mississippi Department of Health numbers show.
Madison County cases have reached 1,355, with 36 deaths.