BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - As the number of cases of COVID-19 continue to spike in Harrison County, opinions are still mixed on how serious the pandemic is on the Gulf Coast.
Throughout the entire state of Mississippi, there have been a total of 24,516 cases reported. That includes 17,242 people who have recovered and 1,016 people who have died.
There have been a total of 1,472 cases of coronavirus and 72 deaths in the six coastal counties since reporting began in March.
The last seven days has seen a pretty significant spike in Harrison County, with 218 cases reported just in the last 10 days. On Thursday, a record 48 new cases was reported for the county. It’s enough to push Harrison County to the county with the 9th highest number of COVID-19 cases in Mississippi.
Hospitalizations have also reached a high point, with the latest report showing 536 patients hospitalized for COVID-19, with 157 of them in ICU and 94 on a ventilator.
“I mean, every indicator is up, right? We can stick our head in the sand and try to find excuses so that we don’t have to modify our behavior, but it doesn’t change the truth,” said Mississippi’s top epidemiologist, Dr. Thomas Dobbs in a press conference Thursday. “The truth is there’s a lot of COVID out there, and it’s killing people and it’s going to kill people and it’s going to stress out our healthcare system. That’s just reality. And if people don’t want to acknowledge it, then you know, I hope when they go to the ICU and want care that there’s care available for them.”
As Dr. Dobbs and state leaders plead with residents to take common sense measures, like wearing a mask in public and staying socially distant, many still refuse to.
Those recommendations and the ever-growing number of cases being reported by the Mississippi State Department of Health are being written off by many.
“It is just ridiculous if you ask me,” said Coast resident Charles Sullivan. “It it was overblown. Out of proportion, if you ask me.”
His sentiment is one that is echoed across social media every day.
Others are nervous about the growing number of cases.
“Ninth in the state but it is still going up right?” said resident Richard Stewart. “So I think I need to take some precautions. I need to look at my security plan and do a little bit better job.”
“Well, it makes me real nervous,” said Rachael Childress, who is visiting the Coast. “Honestly, I am really scared about it because honestly it has been hard. We have stayed in our homes for what three months, almost four months now. We have been maintaining our social distancing and a lot of people are not. A lot of people aren’t wearing masks, they aren’t following the guidelines, four people to an elevator, it is not happening. So I am really scared about it.”
“I think that people just don’t want to abide by the guidelines,” said Kelli Norris. “They think ‘Oh we haven’t got it by now, we’re not going to.‘”
It is because of that mindset that Kelli believes the numbers are going to continue to rise.
“Unless people start abiding, or things get shut back down for a bit.”
Despite false information being shared on social media, the CDC does recommend that masks - even cloth ones - be worn whenever you are around other people who do not live in your home, such as a store or other business. They also recommend maintaining a six feet distance from others when in public.
Additionally, the CDC cites evidence that even asymptomatic people can still spread the virus to others unknowingly.
The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.
As of June 25, a total of 2,374,282 people in the U.S. have tested positive for coronavirus. Of those, 121,809 have died.