Mississippi saw its largest one-day increase in new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, with a reported 498 new positive cases. The hike brought the total number of coronavirus cases in Mississippi to 17,768 as of late Monday morning.  

The number of coronavirus deaths in Mississippi since the pandemic began is now up to 837, which was 20 more than Sunday’s report. However, nine of the new reports actually are based on death certificates received for fatalities between May 13-June 1 and added to 11 other death reports from across the state.  

In DeSoto County, an increase of 22 new cases reported on Monday is close to the highest one-day total of 23, as the county now numbers 633 positive reports. There were no additional death reports in DeSoto County, but 11 people have succumbed to the virus, with four of those deaths from long-term care facilities.

Two long-term care facilities in DeSoto County have reported active cases of the virus among residents and employees. According to Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) information, coronavirus cases have been reported at Diversicare of Southaven and Olive Grove Terrace of Olive Branch.  Olive Grove Terrace earlier itself acknowledged that one of its employees had tested positive off site and has since recovered. 

Diversicare of Southaven was the other DeSoto County-named nursing home with reports of coronavirus. Nineteen employees and 19 residents there were reported to have had COVID-19 and there have been two virus-related deaths at the home.  However, the locations of two other long-term care deaths were not included in the state information released as of June 2. Facilities are self-reporting the information, MSDH stated.  

The list of facilities where the virus has struck was finally released by MSDH after a judge ruled that the information must be made public.  A May 12 lawsuit by a Hattiesburg publisher resulted in an emergency injunction against MSDH to provide the information, saying withholding the figures is not allowed in the Public Records Act.  

Another news organization’s effort back in April to learn long-term care facility locations through a public records request was not responded to by MSDH for over a month. The department then said it was too busy to respond during a pandemic, but gave no legal justification for that policy. The Mississippi Ethics Commission has now received a complaint on the matter.  

Statewide, 2,065 long-term care cases have been reported with 435 deaths from the virus.  

For the seven-day period through June 7, DeSoto County’s number of cases for the past week is 56, which is 30.8 cases for every 100,000 population, and the fourth-highest weekly number among Mississippi counties. 

DeSoto County’s 633 cases to date amounts to 347.8 for every 100,000 residents. CDC information puts DeSoto County at 15.9 cases per 10,000 population.  

“Our seven-day trend is flat if you look at the last two weeks as far as active cases go,” said DeSoto County EMS Director Mark Davis on Monday. “We’re running on average 138 active cases for the last two weeks. Yes, we’ve seen a spike but it has leveled off. We were expecting to see a spike because we opened everything back up, so while we’ve seen an increase, it’s not unexpected.”

Davis said he looks more at the trends than the single-day numbers, but admits Monday’s numbers were higher than usual.   

“Our largest day so far has been 23 cases, which was around two weeks ago,” said Davis. “It is our second-biggest rise that we’ve seen. Our hospitals are in good shape with the number of patients that they have. They’ve not seen a spike as far as hospitalizations. We’ve just seen a spike in cases. You can’t look day-to-day, you have to look over the last seven days. If you look back over the last seven days, that’s an average of 9.5 new cases a day over the last seven days.” 

Davis added 44 tests were given at Friday’s testing at Southaven’s Landers Center. He said weather was the likely cause for the lower test numbers, which he said typically run around 85-90.  

MSDH has reported that 217,229 tests have been performed for the virus. Of that number, 43,362 were done by the MSDH state testing laboratory while other providers did 173,867 tests. Of that number, 9,140 have been antibody tests.

Investigative reporter Will Stribling contributed to this item.