Mississippi testing for COVID-19 at a rate nearly double the national average

Published 11:00 am Monday, April 20, 2020

A new study conducted by researchers at Harvard University has found the number of tests needed to start safely reopening America; however, as a nation, the U.S. is nowhere near that number.

According to data collected by the COVID Tracking Project, approximately 2.7 million Americans have been tested for the virus since the start of April, an average of nearly 142,000 per day.

Hidden inside the numbers is something that speaks positively about the Mississippi healthcare system. One of the last states to officially declare a statewide shelter-in-place policy, Mississippi is testing patients for the virus at a rate nearly double the national average.

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Nationwide, the United States is testing about 45 people per 100,000 people each day. According to this Harvard study, that number needs to rise to 152 people per 100,000 people per day for the United States to begin safely removing social distancing restrictions. For reference, this means that 142,000 people tested daily since the beginning of April needs to be about 479,000 people per day.

Only one state in the union is currently exceeding the 152 tests per 100,000 people barrier: Rhode Island, which is testing 185 people per 100,000 citizens per day. Mississippi, testing an average of 84 people per 100,000 per day, ranks sixth nationally in test rate. They trail only behind Rhode Island, Louisiana, New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut, in order.

“If you have a very high positive (test) rate, it means that there are probably a good number of people out there who have the disease who you haven’t tested,” researcher Ashish Jha, the director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, told the New York Times. “You want to drive the positive rate down, because the fundamental element of keeping our economy open is making sure you’re identifying as many infected people as possible and isolating them.”

The state of Mississippi reported 238 new cases on Monday and 10 deaths. There are three new cases in Lafayette County.

Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves announced Friday that he is extending the state’s shelter-in-place order for one additional week. Originally scheduled to expire at 8 a.m. on April 20, it will now run through, at the very least, April 27. Oxford’s Board of Aldermen extended the city’s own shelter-in-place order to April 30 during a meeting this past Thursday.