Leflore County has experienced its 88th death from COVID-19.
Meanwhile, the Carroll County School District has announced it is sending students home for two weeks as a result of an unspecified outbreak of the virus among them and the staff.
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The latest victim in Leflore County, a man in his 40s, died Monday at Greenwood Leflore Hospital, according to Christine Hemphill, a spokeswoman for the hospital. He had multiple underlying health problems, she said.
He was white, according to the Mississippi State Department of Health, which reported the death Tuesday. He was one of 20 deaths reported, bringing the statewide total to 3,283 since the outbreak began in March.
The decision by the Carroll County district to apparently put all of its 835 students on distance learning through Nov. 10 comes one day after Gov. Tate Reeves imposed a facial mask mandate on the county, one of 16 he has targeted as a result of the recently rising number of COVID-19 cases.
For the week ending Sunday, Carroll County has averaged 4.74 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 the sixth-highest infection rate in the state and almost double the state average of 2.48.
Leflore County is not far behind with a rate of 4.41 new cases daily per 10,000 residents, the state’s seventh-highest figure.
A Facebook post by the Carroll County School District Tuesday did not provide the number of positive cases among students and staff. Superintendent Jim Ray could not be immediately reached for elaboration.
The latest figures released by the Department of Health, for the week ending Oct. 16, showed between 1-5 students and staff members had tested positive for COVID-19 at Marshall Elementary School since in-person classes began in August, and between 1-5 students and no staff members had tested positive at J.Z. George High School. Marshall serves kindergarten through sixth grade, and J.Z. George grades 7 to 12. Those are the only two schools in the district.
The district’s employees been told to continue to report to work as normal each day; however, no children or students will be allowed on the campuses.
“We know this is inconvenient for everyone, however the safety of our employees and students is our first priority,” the Facebook post reads.
The district also said that more information about homework packets and meals will be available soon. Dr. Wendy Hubbard, the assistant superintendent, said additional details will be forthcoming following a meeting of administrators scheduled for Wednesday morning.
The shutdown, at least for now, is not expected to sideline the J.Z. George High School football team.
The Jaguars are scheduled to play their final regular season game Friday at Calhoun City. The following Friday, Nov. 6, they begin the 2A playoffs against an opponent still to be determined.
Nathan Moncrief, the district’s athletic director and the assistant principal at J.Z. George, said the plan is to continue to play sports.
Two weeks ago, Carroll County’s confirmed cases of COVID-19 jumped by 103 in one day following an outbreak at the Carroll-Montgomery County Regional Correctional Facility in Vaiden. Although that one-day spike has since cycled out of the average, the county’s infection rate has remained elevated.
As of Monday, Carroll County has experienced 497 cases of the virus overall but just 12 deaths related to it. The number of fatalities, as a percentage of cases, is slightly below the state average.
At Greenwood Leflore Hospital, the number of hospitalizations in its dedicated COVID-19 unit has been rising in recent days. As of Tuesday morning, there were nine patients being treated at the hospital for the virus, according to Hemphill. One of those was on a ventilator to help the patient breathe.