DeSoto County now leads the state for total number of coronavirus cases reported since the beginning of the pandemic, overtaking Hinds County after weeks of rapidly chipping away at the gap between their caseloads.
Hinds, the state’s most populous county, has led the state in total virus cases for most of the pandemic. As of Friday, DeSoto County has 9,358 cases, and Hinds County has 9,338. The test positivity rate in DeSoto County is also nearly twice that of Hinds, 17.7% and 10.7%, respectively, according to COVIDActNow.com.
DeSoto and Hinds remain leagues ahead of the third-ranked county, Harrison, which has 6,666 cases. Harrison County is the second largest county in Mississippi, with over 208,000 residents.
Hospitals in DeSoto County are being stretched by the rapid rise in cases and hospitalizations, according to hospital officials.
State health officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs has been sounding the alarm about the rapid rate of virus spread in DeSoto County for weeks. The driving force behind this spread is the refusal of many to comply with Gov. Reeves’ mask mandate or social distancing guidelines, according to Dobbs.
Local pushback against the mask order has come from the public as well as public leaders in the county. The sheriff’s department announced last week that it would allow deputies to break the mask mandate. The mayor of Southaven, Darren Musselwhite, has also made inaccurate claims about the state of the pandemic in DeSoto County in response to public warnings shared by Reeves and Dobbs.