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A member of the National Guard gets a sample at a drive-thru testing station. 

After a record-setting week of new daily cases, the state health department expanded COVID-19 testing in DeSoto County. 

The county recently set a new record for the moving average of the most new daily cases, averaging 103 new cases each day over the last seven days.

Cases continue to surge around the state. Gov. Tate Reeves announced Tuesday that 13 more counties would be added to the mask mandate. The executive order remains in effect in DeSoto County.

“It’s bad,” Reeves said at the press conference. “It’s bad everywhere. It’s certainly bad here.”

No counties that were already part of the mask mandate were taken off the updated order. Now, over half of the counties in Mississippi are under the mandate.

DeSoto County remains the county with the most cases reported since the beginning of the pandemic. Today, 77 new cases were reported, bringing the total to 10,409. Over 100 county residents have died from the virus.

The high demand for COVID-19 testing in the county has led the state health department to expand testing in the county, according to a Facebook post today from the DeSoto County Government. Now, testing will be available at the DeSoto County Health Department in Hernando Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Access to testing has increased in the county in recent weeks, as has the test positivity rate. Since September, test positivity rates in the county have nearly doubled.

State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said that the situation continues to worsen in the state, adding that some people in the state have not been able to get the critical care they needed in a timely manner. Surrounding states have had the same issue, he said.

One ICU bed is available in DeSoto County, according to the most recent state health department data.

This all comes before the effects of Thanksgiving traveling and gatherings have been made evident in the number of cases reported.

Christmas is “not going to be any better and probably will be worse,” Dobbs said.

The number of people hospitalized with confirmed COVID-19 cases in Mississippi is now at an all-time high, though Reeves said that this is, in part, because of an improved testing infrastructure.

Dobbs also said that Mississippians should not attend any non-essential gatherings, which have caused outbreaks throughout the state.

The department of health has recently seen transmission of COVID-19 from younger, asymptomatic people to their parents or grandparents, according to Dobbs. 

Reeves and Dobbs pointed to continued positive news about coming vaccines. Some vaccine shipments may be in Mississippi by the middle of this month, Reeves said. There have been very few severe side effects in trials for the vaccines so far, Dobbs said.

Reeves remained steadfast in his position of refraining from shutting down schools or small businesses. He said he would not enact a statewide mask mandate at this time.

Reeves said that Mississippians should assume that everyone they see has the virus and act accordingly.

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