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Warren County surpasses thresholds to be considered COVID-19 virus hot spot

Warren County has once again crossed the threshold to be considered a COVID-19 hot spot in Mississippi.

Tuesday, Mississippi State Department of Health officials announced 18 new cases of the virus in Warren County. That report pushed the two-week total for new cases even further above 200 for the two-week period, and the ratio of cases per 100,000 residents well above 500.

State officials have routinely said that any county that has more than 200 new cases in a two-week period and a ratio of more than 500 per 100,000 residents could face additional state-level restrictions.

For the past two weeks, Warren County has reported 253 new cases, and the ratio of cases per 100,000 residents reached 518.73. It marks the first time since early August that Warren County has been above both thresholds.

Even though Warren County spent 10 days in late July and early August above the thresholds, the state never did place additional restrictions on the county. And, it is not clear now if state health officials will enact more restrictions on county residents this time.

The reason the county likely avoided receiving additional restrictions in the summer, and might avoid them this time, is due to the fact that local leaders — both on the city and county level — have maintained mask mandates, restrictions on gathering sizes and social distancing orders. Those are the measures that the state uses when focusing on other virus hot spots. Currently, 54 of the state’s 82 counties are considered hot spots and are under stricter state mandates.

The report Tuesday also showed an additional virus-related death in Warren County. With that death, Warren County has now reported 60 deaths connected to the pandemic. Since the first case was reported in Warren County on March 29, the county has now reported a total of 1,975 cases overall.

Saturday, the city of Vicksburg approved changes to its ongoing civil emergency orders, which now require masks to be worn inside all businesses and public buildings, and outside when social distancing is not possible. The new order also requires those organizing events of 20 people or more to conduct temperature checks of anyone entering the event before being admitted. It also requires organizers to maintain a log of those attending for contact tracing needs.

In addition, restaurants that serve alcohol are now required to check the temperatures of employees before they are allowed to begin work and guests before they are allowed to be seated.

The city’s order continues through at least Jan. 4.

The county’s ongoing order, which also is set to expire on Jan. 4, require similar social distancing measures and require masks to be worn indoors at all public buildings and businesses. As for businesses, masks must be worn by all customers and employees.

Both city and county officials have alluded that their orders would be extended past Jan. 4.

About Tim Reeves

Tim Reeves, and his wife Stephanie, are the parents of three children, Sarah Cameron, Clayton and Fin, who all attend school in the Vicksburg Warren School District. The family are members of First Baptist Church Vicksburg. Tim is involved in a number of civic and volunteer organizations including the United Way of West Central Mississippi and serves on the City of Vicksburg's Riverfront Redevelopment Committee.

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