JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The state of Mississippi reported its highest-ever single-day increase of coronavirus fatalities on Friday, with 52 deaths. The record comes as Gov. Tate Reeves has expanded mask requirements to eight new counties, set to go into effect on Monday.

People are already required to wear masks in public in 29 of the 82 counties of Mississippi, covering more than half of the state’s population. Republican Reeves has resisted ordering a statewide mask mandate, saying he thinks targeted restrictions are more effective.

With most students are headed to begin the school year in the next couple of weeks, district officials have expressed concern about returning students to the classroom. Corinth School District reported its first positive case of COVID-19 on Friday after returning to in-person classes at the start of the week, according to a post on the district's Facebook page. The individual who tested positive had been at Corinth High School during the week. Officials did not say whether or not that person is a student.

Reeves planned to spend the weekend reviewing plans sent in by districts this week for how officials will approach educating students amid rising cases of coronavirus. Most are proposing a mix of in-person and online instruction.

Mississippi has a population of about 3 million. The Health Department said Friday that the state has had at least 58,747 confirmed cases and at least 1,663 deaths from COVID-19 as of Thursday evening.

At least 3,570 cases of the virus have been confirmed in long-term care facilities such as nursing homes, with at least 744 virus-related deaths in those facilities, the Health Department said.

The true number of virus infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested and studies suggest people can be infected without feeling sick. While most people who contract the coronavirus recover after suffering only mild to moderate symptoms, it can be deadly for older patients and those with other health problems.


Follow AP coverage of the virus outbreak at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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