FC virus count up 86 cases in week

by Nicole Stokes

Franklin County saw another dramatic and historic increase in coronavirus cases over the past week, according to data from the Mississippi Department of Health.

As of Tuesday, Jan. 18, the county’s cumulative number of cases went from 1,426 to 1,512 — a growth rate of 86 individual infections, which is the most seen locally during any seven-day period in almost two years.

Between Tuesday, Jan. 4 and Tuesday, Jan. 11, the local count grew by 76 cases in Franklin County.

An additional coronavirus-related fatality was attributed to the county as well during the past week, bringing the total death toll to 34 since the beginning of the pandemic in March, 2020.

Health department totals indicate 18 of the deaths locally are among the Black-African American population while 16 fatalities have been seen in the Caucasian community.

The cumulative number of COVID-19 infections recorded in the Magnolia State’s 82 counties since the outbreak began stood at 634,628 as of Tuesday, Jan. 18, with 10,625 deaths related to the illness reported thus far.

State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers said 73 percent of coronavirus cases being reported across Mississippi are from the Omicron variant — a fast-moving strain that has grown exponentially since the Christmas holidays.

The most severe cases seen thus far, he continued, remain in vulnerable individuals who have not gotten a COVID vaccine and who have other underlying health conditions.

Byers also pointed out the state is in the midst of its traditional influenza season, which could further tax health care facilities dealing with COVID-19 hospitalizations.

State and local health officials continue to urge residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19 if they have not, and for those who are eligible to receive their recommended booster shots.

Currently, 51 percent — some 3,910 of all Franklin County residents — have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 shot while 46 percent (3,539 residents) are considered to be fully inoculated at this time.

Fifty-two percent (1,588,583) Mississippians have received at least one dose of the vaccination and 45 percent (1,413,999) are considered fully vaccinated against the illness to date.

COVID-19 shots and boosters are still being administered between 8 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursday at Franklin County Memorial Hospital on Main Street in Meadville.

To schedule an appointment to receive an incoulation through FCMH, call 601-384-8264.

Because of the renewed spread of the coronavirus pandemic, the Franklin County School District is mandating the use of face masks for all students and employees effective Tuesday, Jan. 18.

Mask usage will be required in all district buildings including classrooms, cafeterias and gymnasiums along with all daily trips on county school buses, according to Superintendent of Education Chris Kent.

No ending deadline for the mask mandate in local public schools has been announced by officials.