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State health officer confident Mississippi is well prepared for COVID-19 coronavirus



Dr. Thomas E Dobbs III
State Health Officer Dr. Thomas E Dobbs III (photo from MSDH)

Mississippi’s State Health Officer Dr. Thomas E. Dobbs, III, says the state is well prepared to respond to the COVID-19 novel coronavirus should the virus show up in the Magnolia State.

“Our country and our world is being affected by what may be the pandemic scenario of our generation,” Dobbs said during a press conference yesterday, adding that the COVID-19 outbreak is a scenario health officials have been anticipating “for well over a decade.”

“We have a robust and well-thought-out, well-maintained pandemic flu response that we have worked diligently along with the (Mississippi Emergency Management Agency),” he said. “… [W]e have an actionable plan that we can implement based on the scenario that we’re facing,”

Gov. Tate Reeves named Dobbs to lead the state’s coronavirus response planning steering committee “to insure we are prepared to take immediate action,” Reeves said. The governor created the committee by executive order, and it will bring together leaders from several agencies to mitigate the effects of the virus if it should come to Mississippi.

Before being named state health officer in 2018, Dobbs previously served at MSDH as district health officer and state epidemiologist. He holds a Doctorate of Medicine and a master’s in public health from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Reeves emphasized that, to date, Mississippi has not had a confirmed case of COVID-19, but vigilance and planning are called for.

In the U.S., 209 cases of the disease have been confirmed, and 12 people have died from it as of this writing. Eleven of the deaths have occurred in Washington State and one in California.

Worldwide, more than 98,000 cases are confirmed in 88 countries with 3,356 deaths. China, where the virus was first diagnosed, still has the highest number of cases, by far, with more than 80,000.

The World Health Organization said today that the death rate from the disease is 3.4%, which is higher than the previous rate of 2%. In comparison, the flu, which has similar symptoms, infects far more people annually, but the death rate is about 0.1%.

For more information, visit the MSDH website.

Also, read our previous stories on this subject.

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