November 20, 2020 9:41:22 AM
As COVID-19 cases keep soaring both statewide and nationwide, the numbers in the four-county area continue to climb.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the latest when data is available, the four counties have seen close to 6,000 cases and more than 160 deaths since March, according to the Mississippi State Department of Health.
Lowndes County had seen a total of 2,179 cases as of Wednesday, including 113 new cases from the past week -- the sharpest increase in the Golden Triangle area. Oktibbeha County had a total of 2,317 cases, adding 107 cases from last week.
Clay County saw a total of 827 cases, with only 34 new cases. Noxubee County had 37 new cases in the past week, bringing its total to 671.
Mississippi schools have also witnessed a spike in COVID-19 infections, adding 1,023 cases among students and 523 among staff, state data shows. Locally, case counts continue to climb, although at a milder rate.
After two weeks of case spikes, Lowndes County School District continues to see the highest COVID-19 case counts -- 22 among students and staff between Nov. 9-13 -- among area school districts. As of Nov. 13, the district had seen a total of 119 cases since school began. The case numbers are updated every Monday at https://www.lowndes.k12.ms.us/.
Columbus Municipal School District saw one student and three staff members test positive last week, Superintendent Cherie Labat told The Dispatch. However, the district quarantined 132 students and 16 staff during the same timeframe, she said, an "extra cautious" measure to prevent the virus spread. She said some of the quarantined students and staff were potentially exposed after engaging in athletic activities, but she refused to comment further due to the potential of disclosing identifying information.
Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District had nine positive cases among students and three among staff during the week of Nov. 9, double the figures from the prior week, according to its weekly reporting at https://www.starkvillesd.com/covid19/numbers/index/.
Since school began Aug. 24, SOCSD has witnessed at least 55 positive cases among students and 16 among staff, according to the district's archived data.
Only seven of the eight schools within the West Point Consolidated School District are listed as reporting to MSDH, according to the department's website. When schools report fewer than five confirmed COVID-19 cases in a week, MSDH lists the number as between one and five. The seven schools have witnessed between 30 and 72 cases since school began, data shows. Between Nov. 9-13, Church Hill Elementary School and Fifth Street School both recorded 1-5 cases among staff, and another 1-5 cases took place among students at Fifth Street School. The remaining five schools recorded no new cases.
WPCSD had planned to bring students back in the classrooms for four days a week on Dec. 1, but canceled the plan after four staff members tested positive and 17 staff members were quarantined over the weekend, according to a Tuesday letter to district parents. Superintendent Burnell McDonald could not be reached for comment by press time.
None of the schools within the Noxubee County School District is listed as reporting to MSDH. Superintendent Rodriguez Broadnax could not be reached for comment by press time.
For the week of Nov. 9, Annunciation Catholic School in Columbus, Millcreek of Golden Triangle in Columbus, Magnolia Christian School in Macon and Starkville Christian School reported no new cases, and Oak Hill Academy in West Point reported 1-5 cases among students, MSDH data shows. Other private schools were not listed as reporting to MSDH.
Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science had one teacher and no students test positive last week, Director for Academic Affairs Kelly Brown said. Since classes began Aug. 10, the school only had two staff members testing positive, she said.
Mississippi State University publishes daily COVID-19 case updates on its website. As of Wednesday, MSU had 46 positive student cases and eight employee cases. There were 28 positive student cases and five employee cases as of Nov.11.
Cases at Mississippi University for Women, however, seem to be slowing. The university updates its numbers on its website every Friday morning, and as of today had only two new cases among staff and four new cases among students this week, compared to 15 total new cases last week. MUW has seen a total of 70 cases since Aug. 14.
Overall, the state has seen a steep spike in COVID-19 cases in the past week, data shows. As of Wednesday, Mississippi had seen a total of 138,791 cases and 3,619 deaths.
The United States has recorded a total of 11.5 million cases and 249,670 deaths since Jan. 21, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The nation added almost 1.2 million cases over the past week.
Yue Stella Yu is the local government reporter for The Dispatch. Reach her at 662-328-2424 (ext 106) or follow her on Twitter @StellaYu_Mizzou
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