Mississippi: Over 18,000 Students Covid-19 Coronavirus Positive Since August

By Bruce Y. Lee, Contributor
With no statewide requirements, it's not clear how many students in Mississippi's are wearing face masks or maintaining other Covid-19 precautions. (Photo by Edmund D. Fountain for The Washington Post via Getty Images) The Washington Post via Getty Images

One Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi. You’d have to count all the way up to 18,825 Mississippi to get the number of students who have recently tested positive for the Covid-19 coronavirus. According to data from the state government, since the beginning of August, 18,825 students and 3,616 teachers and staff have tested positive for the Covid-19 coronavirus. And there’s been a total of 1,118 Covid-19 outbreaks. That’s 1,118 too many.

The week of August 30 to September 3 alone had 123 outbreaks with 2,869 students and 476 teachers and staff testing positive for the Covid-19 coronavirus. As a result, 15,398 students and 570 teachers and staff have ended up in quarantine.

In case you are Mississippi’ing what’s going on, the state continues to be in the midst of a Covid-19 surge. On Friday, the Mississippi Department of Health tweeted the following grim update:

That same day, Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves announced that he will extend Mississippi’s State of Emergency for another 30 days. The Governor’s announcement mentioned “marshalling additional resources for the state’s response” but emphasized “once again, there will be no lockdowns or statewide mandates.” So, in other words, there is a continuing emergency but the state government is not really going to insist that everyone does anything?

Mississippi Republican Gov. Tate Reeves (pictured here in June 2020) recently announced that he will extend Mississippi’s State of Emergency for another 30 days. (Photo by Rogelio V. Solis-Pool/Getty Images) Getty Images

A big part of declaring an emergency is what orders follow the declaration. You don’t just say, “it’s an emergency, the house is on fire,” or “it’s an emergency, I’m about to poop in my pants in T-minus seven, six...” or “it’s an emergency, 457 is far too many marmots in the house,” and follow it with “OK, back to your regularly scheduled programming.” No, instead, each of these is followed by a clear order such as “so everyone leave the house now and call the fire department,” or “so stop trying to feed me beans, show me where the bathroom is, and get out of the way,” or “stop posting those party signs that say ‘all marmots welcome.’” Declaring an emergency is all about issuing orders or mandates in order to benefit the overall, general good. It’s about getting everyone to do something urgently about what’s causing the emergency.

Why is Mississippi in this state of emergency? Well, maybe, just maybe, not enough is being done to control the spread of the virus. For example, data from the Mississippi State Department of Health show that vaccination rates are really Mississippi’ing the mark. As of September 10, 1,223,093 Mississippians have been fully vaccinated. That’s only about 41% of the total population, which is significantly lower than 53%, the percentage of the entire U.S. population that’s been fully vaccinated.

It’s not as if Mississippi is comprised mainly of kids under 12. That would be a bit weird and make it very difficult to find someone to give you a ride. Looking at just the vaccine-eligible population or only those 12 years and older, only 47% have been fully vaccinated compared to 63% of the entire vaccine-eligible population in the U.S. This is making Mississippi a rather hospitable place for the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), which unfortunately will land more people in the hospital.

The continuing spread of the virus suggests that not enough people are maintaining other Covid-19 precautions either. Such precautions include wearing face masks and practicing social distancing like keeping at least six feet or one Denzel away from each other (because Denzel Washington is about six feet tall.) And Holy Cow, maintaining science-backed Covid-19 precautions does not mean taking ivermectin meant for horses or cows, as I covered for Forbes last month.

When you’ve already asked nicely many times for many months and people still aren’t willing to do something for the common good, the next step usually is to require it. That’s why every country, state, municipality, school, and workplace has so many rules and regulations.

Yet, Reeves has continued to push back against Covid-19 precaution requirements. For example, here’s what he tweeted after President Joe Biden’s announcement Covid-19 vaccination requirements for federal workers:

And the next day, Reeves tweeted this:

“Use every tool to stop” an attempt to stop the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic?

Of course, vaccination requirements are nothing new in the U.S. For decades, states have required kids to get vaccinated against diseases such as polio, measles, mumps, rubella, and tetanus before entering elementary school systems. This helped get such diseases under better control. How many people are claiming that requirements to wear clothes or not use tables as toilets is tyranny?

Former CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, suggested that there are correlations between what state governments have done and their residents’ risk of dying from Covid-19:

You can’t Mississippi all over science-backed public health measures and then expect the Covid-19 coronavirus to just go away.

There are a lot of eyes in and on Mississippi because states that aren’t able to adequately control the spread of the virus effectively serve as breeding grounds for the Covid-19 coronavirus and new variants of the virus. Remember, the more the virus replicates in a state, the more likely new variants will emerge and the more likely the virus will continue to spread to other states. In other words, what happens in Mississippi may end up Mississipi’ing all over other states.

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