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Reeves and Dobbs take on a few COVID-19 rumors



Mississippi State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs (Photo via video screen grab)
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In the governor’s live news conference Monday, Gov. Tate Reeves and State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs addressed some of the many rumors about COVID-19 that have emerged on social media.

Among them is the false notion that new case counts report multiple tests for the same individual as multiple cases.

“Every time you test someone, it doesn’t matter, one person is one case,” Dobbs said. “People ask me over and over again, ‘If we test someone three times does that count as three cases?’ Absolutely not. If we test someone 20 times, the same person is going to be just one case.”

Dobbs also commented on the rumors that antibody tests are another driver behind large numbers of new cases.

“Are we driving up our case count with antibody? Absolutely not,” he said. “Of our total 36,680 cases, 285 are from antibody tests, so it’s a small number, and it’s only people who have a positive antibody test and either symptoms consistent with coronavirus or a known personal contact.”

The governor, meanwhile, took on the notion of herd immunity, which theoretically could occur when 70% to 90% of the population had been infected, although there is scant evidence that COVID-19 immunity is conferred through infection. With a population of around 3 million in Mississippi, nearly 2 million people would need to be infected. At the current hospitalization rate of about 12%, it means 240,000 people needing hospital beds, with many needing intensive care and ventilators. Those kinds of numbers would completely swamp the health care system which is stretched to its limits with 1,000 patients.

“Herd immunity as a solution does not work,” Reeves said. “It doesn’t work in our state, and I don’t believe it works anywhere else — unless you’re comfortable with literally tens of thousands, probably hundreds of thousands of Mississippians who need medical care being unable to receive it. That is not a strategy worth considering, in my humble opinion.”

Reeves also attempted to clear up some of the rumors about wearing masks. While he admitted that guidance coming from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other organizations have been confusing and even contradictory in the past, he indicated that wearing masks and practicing social distancing is currently the best defense against viral spread.

“This is the best weapon we have right now,” Reeves said. “It’s not fun but it’s a hell of a lot better than widespread economic shutdown.”

“Is wearing a mask in public foolproof? Does it guarantee that no spread is going to occur? No. It does not,” he added. “But it can go a long way toward helping.”

The governor will hold another live-streamed news conference Tuesday at 2:30 p.m.

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