COVID-19 case and quarantine numbers are up in the Carroll County School District, which reopened for in-person classes last week.

The county’s two public schools — J.Z. George High School and Marshall Elementary — had conducted distance learning for two weeks because of an unspecified outbreak of the virus.

According to data released late last month by the Mississippi State Department of Health, 53 students in the school district, or about 6% of its student population, had quarantined due to exposure to the coronavirus. The number had dropped to zero for the week ending Nov. 6 but has since risen again.

J.Z. George has reported that 24 students and one employee have been quarantined due to an exposure to the virus, with six teachers or staff members and nine students testing positive since the start of school.

At Marshall, two more teachers have tested positive since last week’s report.

Jim Ray, the district’s superintendent, said he did not know of a specific focal point that caused the students and employee to quarantine, but he said the district will go back to distance learning if necessary.

New confirmed cases of the virus among Mississippi students have nearly doubled within a week, according to The Associated Press.

The number of students who tested positive for coronavirus increased from 579 from Nov. 2 through Nov. 6 to more than 1,000 from Nov. 9 to Nov. 13.

Last week, schools reported 70 outbreaks.

More than 14,000 students in the state have been placed in quarantine within the last week, according to the Health Department, compared with about 9,000 during the previous week.

Leflore County High School has shown no positive cases but has 27 students and eight teachers or staff members under quarantine.

Last week, the Greenwood Leflore Consolidated School District announced that both the boys and girls Leflore County High School basketball teams as well as coaches and staff involved with the team were to quarantine after an exposure to the virus while  playing an opposing team Nov. 10.

Leflore County’s opponent in that game was Palmer High School in Marks. Both games were played in Itta Bena.

According to Assistant Superintendent Charles Johnson, three of the quarantined staff members are isolating because of a connection to the basketball team, while the five others are doing so because of an exposure outside the school system.

Again, Delta Streets Academy and Carroll Academy did not report their numbers to the Health Department.

The state health officer, Dr. Thomas Dobbs, issued an order in August mandating the weekly reporting of COVID-19 data by all elementary and secondary schools, public and private. Failure to comply, according to Department of Health officials, is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500 and up to six months in jail.

This is the eighth straight time both schools have not been listed.

The Mississippi State Department of Health reported Wednesday that Leflore County has had 1,945 cases. The county, which had gone three weeks without adding a coronavirus-related death, also reported its 89th from COVID-19 on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Carroll County, which has had 664 cases and 13 deaths, continues to have the highest infection rate in the state.

For the week ending Monday, Carroll County has averaged 10.77 new cases daily per 10,000 residents, according to data tracked by the Harvard Global Health Institute and the Brown School of Public Health. That’s almost triple the state average of 3.69.

Leflore County has a rate of 4.11 new cases daily per 10,000 residents, ranking it 31st out of 82 counties.

Greenwood Leflore Hospital was treating 10 patients for the virus as of Wednesday morning, according to Christine Hemphill, a spokeswoman for the hospital. Four of those patients were on ventilators to help them breathe.

Overall, Mississippi had 1,593 new virus cases reported Wednesday.

Both Carroll and Leflore counties are under mask mandates imposed by Gov. Tate Reeves on 22 counties because of their case numbers. Even before the governor’s decision last week to include Leflore County in his mask order, it was already under a longstanding mask mandate imposed by the county's Board of Supervisors.

• Contact Adam Bakst at 581-7233 or abakst@gwcommonwealth.com. Twitter: @AdamBakst_GWCW

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