Jones, Wayne counties experience spike in COVID-19 cases
A spike in the number of COVID-19 cases in Jones County and Wayne County has state and local officials concerned.
“Those are two counties that we are monitoring very, very closely,” Gov. Tate Reeves said.
State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said the majority of the cases in both counties come from community transmission.
“It does very much concern me that it’s mostly community spread,” Dobbs said.
Jones County has become the hardest hit county in Mississippi in terms of the total number of COVID-19 cases reported in the last week.
“It’s an area that needs lots of attention and some of these core public things that we’re doing will make a difference,” Dobbs said.
“I am concerned about the numbers,” Laurel Mayor Johnny Magee. “I am concerned about the attitude that some people are taking about the virus.”
Jones County experienced a 22% increase in cases from May 18 to May 24, topping the list.
“We are a hot spot, whether we’re technically or officially, we are a hot spot,” Magee said.
Wayne County had the highest incidence rate in the state from May 18 to May 24 and also had a rapid increase. Dobbs said the number of cases there are doubling every four days.
“If you live in Wayne County, I beg of you, please practice social distancing, wear a mask in public and please, please, please do not go to mass gatherings, because there is a high degree of transmission apparent right now,” Dobbs said.
Although the cases are rising, masks are not mandated in either county.
“I would not enforce or dictate or demand, order that you have to wear masks, but I do very much encourage you to wear a mask,” Magee said.
Local officials say they will continue to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and the governor’s executive orders.
“Understand that social distancing, while a pain, is here to stay; it’s here to stay for at least the foreseeable future,” Reeves said.