Thursday, May 13, 2021

COVID-19 Cases Start to Dip After Sharp Increase

By Alyssa Schnugg
News editor

Reports of new COVID-19 cases in Oxford have dipped in the last week in comparison to last week.

During the first week of September, there were 209 new cases reported in Lafayette County. In the last seven days, 167 new cases have been reported.

Lafayette County School District has also seen the number of new cases slow down. Last week, only two new cases were reported in the district – one teacher and one student, both at Lafayette Middle School. There has been a total of 19 cases in the district since August.

During the last week of August, three fourth-grade teachers tested positive for COVID-19. The district learned of the positive results on Aug. 23 and immediately put the entire fourth-grade in quarantine for 14 days. During a school board meeting on Aug. 25, school officials said the quarantine was done to help prevent a larger outbreak. No new cases were reported at Lafayette Upper Elementary School.

On Monday, the Oxford School District reported eight cases – two teachers and six students. The teachers were from Bramlett Elementary and the high school. Three of the students were high school students, two are in Central Elementary and one is Oxford Intermediate. The district has had a total of 11 cases since classes started Aug. 24.

The University of Mississippi has also seen a downward trend of positive cases of COVID-19 over the last several days. On Monday, the school reported 64 new cases in the last seven days, down from the week prior where there were 167 new cases during the first week of September.

There are 64 active cases on campus as of Monday, also down from Sept. 7 when 315 active cases were reported. All 64 cases are among students.

There have been 636 cases at Ole Miss since August.

Since many students are here in Oxford but live elsewhere full-time, those positive cases are often reported to their hometown and state so it is unclear how many of UM’s cases are included in the MSDH’s reported cases for Lafayette County.

There have been 39 deaths in Lafayette County associated with the virus – 28 being patients in a long-term care facility.

As of Monday, there were about 325 active cases in Lafayette County, which means less than 14 days since diagnoses and a total since March of 1,958.

On Monday, Gov. Tate Reeves extended the social distancing measures under the Safe Return order with a few amendments relaxing restrictions in Mississippi as numbers of positive cases leveled out the last few days around the state.

Under the amended Safe Return order, group gathering limitations are now at no more than 10 indoors or 50 outdoors when social distancing is not possible. If people are able to social distance, group gatherings are set at no more than 20 indoors or 100 outdoors.

Maximum capacity has also been increased to 75% for retail businesses, restaurants, gyms and seated dinners at reception halls and conference centers. Party sizes in restaurants are now limited to 10 people per table, and gyms can be open 24 hours a day.

However, the Oxford Board of Aldermen has not changed the city’s restrictions as of Monday afternoon, although the matter is on the agenda for the Board’s meeting at 5 p.m. on Tuesday.

According to state law, the city can be more strict than the governor’s executive order but not more lenient.

The city of Oxford limits social gatherings to 10 indoors and 20 outdoors and retail businesses can operate at 50% occupancy.