WATER VALLEY – The number of COVID-19 cases in Yalobusha County have more than doubled during the last week, climbing from 36 on May 12 to 75 on Wednesday. Incoming Yalobusha County EMA Director Dalton Coleman told the Herald Tuesday that about half of the 75 cases in the county are active cases.
The biggest increase came late last week and was anticipated after officials with the Yalobusha Nursing Home reported 24 residents tested positive for COVID-19. The nursing home shared the information on Facebook last Wednesday, adding that the vast majority of the patients who tested positive were showing no symptoms and were doing well.
The nursing home also has five staff members who have tested positive for the virus, according to the nursing home hotline Tuesday afternoon.
The county’s first three deaths were reported by the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) during the last week, the first reported on Sunday, the second reported Tuesday and the third Wednesday. All three deaths were in a long-term care facility, according to the MSDH report.
Latest From Governor
On Tuesday, Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves released social distancing and sanitation guidelines for in-person worship services to safely resume across Mississippi.
Consulting with Dr. Thomas Dobbs and state health officials, Reeves reported guidelines were developed for worship leaders and their congregations to join together to practice their faiths while continuing to help protect public health and flatten the curve.
“I’ll just say this as a personal point. My family is likely going to continue worshiping from home for a while. The church is not a building. We can honor our Lord and keep our neighbors safe. You don’t need to rush back. We do want to provide a playbook for how to do it safely, when pastors determine the time is right,” Reeve added in Tuesday’s press conference.
The guidelines include steps to prepare houses of worship, plan for logistics and worship programming, and direct staff and worship leadership on social distancing protocols.
• Prior to resuming in-person services, communicate with members of your faith community about steps being taken to prepare the house of worship for their arrival and ways the in-person gathering will be different. Remind them of social distancing protocols.
• Consider adopting a phased approach to resuming in-person gatherings.
• Consider holding a separate worship service for vulnerable populations.
• Remind people who are sick or have been exposed to not attend in-person gatherings and participate virtually instead.
• Consider solutions to minimize close personal contact that may be part of your services, such as handshakes or sharing food and drink.
• Consider delaying the resumption of children’s activities/nursery programs until a later time.
• Limit the size of attendance in your sanctuary and other confined spaces to create seating arrangements that provide at least six-foot distancing between household units.
•Consider broadcasting the service to other rooms in the facility to allow proper social distancing.
• Use controlled points of entry and exit from the sanctuary and ask your faith community to enter that facility and immediately enter the sanctuary.
• Consider strongly encouraging the use of face coverings by all persons in the house of worship. Consider having a supply of face coverings available at entrances to offer to individuals if necessary.
• If you learn that a member of your community has tested positive for COVID-19, report the case to the Mississippi State Department of Health and follow their guidance to determine whether you should immediately cease in-person gatherings, close for additional cleaning, or otherwise change your protocols.
• Stay informed of the most updated recommendations and safety protocols from the CDE and Mississippi Department of Health for handling COVID-19.
Reeves also said churches and places of worship were deemed an essential business or operation and were never instructed to close, though they were encouraged to offer services online and remotely to help slow the spread of COVID-19.