The Investigators: Mississippi’s COVID-19 testing strategy is about to change

The Investigators: Mississippi’s COVID-19 testing strategy is about to change

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The state of Mississippi is changing its COVID-19 test strategy, with a new focus on confirmed outbreaks rather than potential exposure to the disease.

Governor Tate Reeves said Wednesday that so far, testing has been targeted to those in close contact with positive COVID-19 cases.

“Testing and tracing are continuing to come along very well. You probably remember that that has been our strategy with respect to this virus from the very beginning,” he said.

However, Mississippi Health Director said in the same press conference that the strategy is shifting.

“This is gonna sound crazy but we hope to report more cases because we’re going to expand our more aggressive testing around outbreaks,” said Dr. Thomas Dobbs.

According to data from Johns Hopkins University, 53,835 Mississippians have been tested so far. That is less than 2% of the population.

There are currently 5,135 confirmed cases of COVID-19 cases in the state. There have been 201 deaths.

Our COVID-19 tracking map shows hot spots in Tunica, Coahoma and Bolivar counties.

State House Minority Leader Robert Johnson said in a Facebook Live Thursday that there are’t enough tests to know where the hot spots really are.

“People have a lack of information,” he said. “I see people every day who say ‘have you heard anything? When are we going to get tests? How bad is it in our area?’”

Johnson also wants more testing for essential workers.

“Not for our safety but for their safety. To make sure they’re in a place where they can function and feel free to function. These people are working at their peril,” said Rep. Johnson.

Governor Reeves says that more testing at the state level is the goal.

“That’s the way in which you can catch it earlier and can hopefully over time and lead to fewer deaths,” said Gov. Reeves.

As of April 22, there were 382 patients with confirmed COVID-19 infections; 78 were on ventilators.

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