TIPTON COUNTY, Miss. (WMC) - Shelby County isn’t the only place seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases in school-aged children.
Tipton County Schools has seen dozens of cases this month, and like Shelby County, officials believe a lot of the transmission is happening during extracurricular activities.
Shelby County saw 257 new COVID-19 cases over the last 24 hours and 10 more deaths. Next door in Tipton County, there were nearly 45 new cases reported, but officials there said their numbers are continuing to trend higher including dozens of reports inside schools. They said that trend affects hospitalizations and rates here in Shelby County.
“What’s happening in the schools is a reflection of what’s happening in the community,” Shelby County Health Director Dr. Alisa Haushalter said.
Shelby County Health officials said they are seeing 18-21 cases of COVID-19 in school-aged children every day. Nearly 10 percent of reported COVID-19 cases are in people 18 years old or younger. The cases in that age group rise as cases across the community continue to go up.
It’s the same thing in Tipton County. The week of Nov. 2, Tipton County Schools said it reported 16 cases in staff members and 17 in students. So far this week, it said there have been at least 20 reported in staff members there.
The district said “Just as cases are rising in our community, they are rising in the schools also. Most of our positive cases are traced to family members, weekend gatherings and sports teams.”
“There’s great concern because we know during the day, from the morning until 3:00 in the afternoon, we have a lot of folks that are pretty close together,” Tipton County Executive Jeff Huffman said.
Local health departments cannot make decisions about extracurriculars for schools. The TSSAA continues to change its regulations as new data about the pandemic is revealed. Playing is still allowed though regulations like attendance numbers, and temperature checks and vetting are also in place.
“We have just put out that those are high-risk behaviors and activities,” Dr. Haushalter said. “We think parents need to have information to make informed decisions.”
Tipton County had a mask mandate for two months until Sept. 30, and Tipton County Executive Jeff Huffman said cases went down.
Based on the numbers, he said a new county-wide mask mandate is still on the table, but he wishes Governor Bill Lee would issue a statewide mandate.
“I wish the governor would enact a statewide mandate,” Huffman said. “You’re always going to have one county that is driving cases down and the next county those numbers may be going up.”
Tipton County Schools mandates masks in some areas of the buildings like in classrooms where social distancing is difficult and in the hallways.