Last week, DeSoto County Schools saw a slight improvement in the number of new COVID-19 cases and quarantines in staff and students compared to recent weeks — many of which have been the worst since the beginning of the semester.
The district reported 92 total new cases, with 70 students and 22 staff members testing positive for the virus.
Additionally, 547 students were quarantined last week following possible exposure, a decrease from last week’s record report of 755 new student quarantines.
Though last week’s numbers were a slight improvement compared to weeks prior, new positive cases and quarantines have continued to climb in the district. For the first nine weeks, the district recorded some of the lowest numbers of cases per capita in the state.
"We are encouraged that last week’s numbers were an improvement, but we know that we must continue to be vigilant in reinforcing our COVID-19 procedures throughout the school day," DeSoto County Schools Superintendent Cory Uselton said in an email. "We have a crucial three week stretch coming up after Thanksgiving. As always, we must closely monitor COVID-19 numbers at all of our schools as students finish up the last 15 days of the first semester."
This comes as COVID-19 is spreading through the county faster than ever before, according to the number of new cases reported each day by the state department of health.
DeSoto County now has reported more cases of COVID-19 since March than any other county in Mississippi.
Though some of those cases represent a backlog in reporting, most of them represent recent tests in the community, according to the Mississippi State Department of Health.
DeSoto County’s rate of transmission is nearly double the threshold of a “critical” community, according to one model used by health experts. This means the county “is either actively experiencing an outbreak or is at extreme risk.”
Since the beginning of the pandemic, DeSoto County has reported 9,569 cases and 99 deaths. In the last week, 12 deaths in DeSoto County were reported by the department of health this week, though some of those deaths were backlogged from earlier months.
Still, the community faces faster spread of the virus than ever before.