RALEIGH, MS - As Mississippi experiences a surge in COVID-19 cases that are overwhelming hospitals, we wanted to take a few moments and update you on where the county stands, and what the data says about spread within the county.
As of 6:00PM CDT, on August 3rd, the Mississippi Department of Health is reporting 385 cases of COVID-19 within Smith County, 13 deaths due to COVID-19, 54 of those 385 cases are within long-term care facilities, and 8 of those 13 deaths are from LTCFs. This represents a 220% increase in cases since our last COVID-19 update that we gave on May 19th.
What this tells us is that community transmission is ongoing, COVID-19 is still being spread, and largely social distancing protocols and mask-wearing measures are being ignored.
Many Mississippians are confused by the orders currently in place, and what has been rescinded. The Office of the Governor has released a cheat sheet that outlines these details, and we encourage every Smith Countian to look it over and familiarize yourself with the current measures.
Ultimately, the facts and the science has not changed. COVID-19 has not disappeared, it will not simply vanish, and it is not a hoax. We remain steadfast in our goal to curb community spread, prevent long-term hospital overload, and stand united to help protect ourselves, our neighbors, and our communities.
Social distancing, proper hygiene, and mask-wearing are our best tools against COVID-19 at this time, and will remain that way until a vaccine is developed and widely available. We encourage every Smith Countian to mask up, and practice social distancing. It is the absolute best thing you can do on a personal level for your community, your county, state, and your country.
You can view detailed data on the current state of COVID-19 spread within Smith County, including data relating to cases by race, sex, etc. below. Data was aggregated by the Mississippi Department of Health and is accurate as of August 1st, 2020.
RALEIGH, MS - We are continuing our daily updates of Tropical Storm Cristobal as it moves north towards the Gulf Coast.
As of 10:00PM, the center of Tropical Storm Cristobal was located near latitude 22.7N, longitude 90.1W. Cristobal is moving toward the north near 14 mph, and this general motion is expected to continue for the next couple of days. On the forecast track, the center of Cristobal will move over the central Gulf of Mexico on Saturday, and be near the northern Gulf of Mexico coast on Sunday. Cristobal's center is then forecast to move inland across Louisiana late Sunday and Monday.
Maximum sustained winds have increased to near 45 mph (75 km/h) with higher gusts. Slow strengthening is forecast until landfall occurs on the northern Gulf coast. Weakening will begin once Cristobal moves inland late Sunday and Monday.
Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 240 miles (390 km) from the center.
Some changes for this update include the issuance of a Tropical Storm Warning for the Mississippi coast and a Storm Surge Warning. A Storm Surge Warning is in effect for all areas from the mouth of the Mississippi River to Ocean Springs, Mississippi. A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for all areas east of Morgan City, Louisiana to the Okaloosa/Walton County, Florida line.
RALEIGH, MS - Yesterday, we began passing along daily information about Tropical Storm Cristobal to you as it makes its way towards the Mississippi Gulf Coast. We will continue to monitor the situation through updates from the National Hurricane Center and communicate any changes to you so that you can adequately prepare for possible hazardous conditions.
At 4:00 PM CDT, the center of Tropical Depression Cristobal was located near latitude 17.5N, longitude 90.8W. The depression is moving toward the east-southeast near 3 mph. A turn toward the east and northeast is expected tonight, and a subsequent generally northward motion should occur through Sunday. On the forecast track, the center will move over extreme northwestern Guatemala and eastern Mexico tonight and Friday. The center is forecast to move back over the southern Gulf of Mexico late Friday, over the central Gulf of Mexico on Saturday, and approach the northern Gulf of Mexico coast Sunday and Sunday night. Maximum sustained winds are near 35 mph (55 km/h) with higher gusts. Some additional weakening is possible overnight. Re-intensification is expected to begin late Friday. The estimated minimum central pressure is 999 mb (29.50 inches).
Currently, there are no coastal watches or warnings in effect. Interests along the Mississippi Gulf Coast should monitor the progress of this system. The National Hurricane Center notes that a tropical storm watch and a storm surge watch may be required for a portion of the area tonight or Friday.
It is important to note that on the current path, Cristobal's front right quadrant will be dishing out the most impactful weather to our area. This is due to several factors. The right front quadrant is a region of onshore winds as opposed to the left front quadrant which is a region of offshore winds. The right front quadrant of a landfalling hurricane brings stronger winds, storm surge and increased tornado possibilities and is generally the most devastating section of the storm. The onshore winds of a tropical cyclone tend to be strongest for a couple of reasons. Onshore winds have less friction over water and blow faster than those blowing offshore which have more friction. The forward speed of the entire cyclone also adds to the speed of the winds in the right front quadrant. For faster moving hurricanes this can increase the winds substantially.
We encourage you to begin making preparations now for potential tropical weather activity going into the weekend. As always, we will keep you informed and up-to-date with the latest information from the National Hurricane Center.
RALEIGH, MS - Tropical Storm Christobal has formed in the southern Gulf of Mexico, and will pose a threat to the Mississippi Gulf Coast this weekend into next week. As such, we will begin issuing daily alerts on this system as it moves closer to the Gulf Coast.
At 10:00 AM CDT, the center of Cristobal was located near latitude 18.6N, longitude 92.0W. Cristobal is moving toward the SSE near 3 mph, and a turn toward the east is expected later today. A turn toward the NNE and north is expected on Thursday and Friday. On the forecast track, the center will move over the land mass of eastern Mexico through Thursday. The center is forecast to move back over the Gulf of Mexico by Friday.
Maximum sustained winds are near 60 mph with higher gusts. Slow weakening is forecast during the next 48 hours, and Cristobal will likely become a tropical depression by Thursday evening. Some re-strengthening is expected to begin on Friday. Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 60 miles from the center. The estimated minimum central pressure is 995 mb (29.39 inches).
It is imperative that you plan now for potential tropical storm conditions. You can find information on how to plan for a tropical system by downloading the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency's 2020 Hurricane Preparedness Guide at https://www.msema.org/…/39779_MEMA-Hurrican-Preparedness.pdf
Should an evacuation be ordered for the Gulf Coast, please make yourself aware of the evacuation routes.
Evacuation routes in coastal Mississippi are:
- Interstate 10
- Interstate 110
- Interstate 59
- US Highway 90
- US Highway 49
- US Highway 98
- State Route 43
- State Route 603
- State Route 53
- State Route 605
- State Route 67
- State Route 15
- State Route 609
- State Route 57
- State Route 63
While an evacuation would not be expected for Smith County, evacuation routes in Smith County include:
- State Route 35
- State Route 28
- State Route 13
The next update for Smith County will be at 8:00PM tomorrow.
RALEIGH, MS - As Mississippi begins to slowly open back up, we wanted to take a few moments and update you on where Smith County stands, and what restrictions are currently still in place, and what ones are not.
Currently, as of 6:00 PM on May 18th, Smith County is reporting 120 active cases of coronavirus, 9 deaths, and 29 cases of coronavirus within a long-term care facility, and six deaths from a long-term care facility. Those 120 active cases of the virus represent about 0.746% of the total population of the county. Compared to the rest of the state, and neighboring counties, this number is quite low, and the rate of transmission from person-to-person is lower as well. This is due to the stringent measures that were put in place by your Board of Supervisors and Emergency Management team to help slow the spread. Remember the goal was to never stop COVID-19 spreading, it was to avoid a surge of cases that could overrun hospitals in our area.
On April 24th, Governor Tate Reeves allowed the statewide shelter-in-place order to expire, and replaced it with a new Safer-At-Home order. This executive order encouraged people to stay home, avoid essential travel, and continue to socially distance. At the time, the Board of Supervisors felt it was in the best interest of the citizens of Smith County to continue our local order that implemented a curfew, restrictions on age within public spaces, public gatherings, and more.
As Governor Reeves has begun phasing in a reopening plan over the past several weeks, the Board of Supervisors has allowed the local order to expire, and we are pleased to announce that the only restrictions that Smith County is currently enforcing are those that may be set by the state.
It is imperative that individuals use common sense when traveling, shopping, or going to work. No government order can replace your best judgement for what is right for you and your family. We still encourage you to socially distance, travel only when needed, and maintain proper hygiene. Continue to follow CDC guidelines for wearing face coverings.
Just because our orders have been rescinded, doesn't mean that the threat of COVID-19 is gone. COVID-19 is here to stay until a treatment or vaccine is found. It is imperative that we all use common-sense, and the best health practices to continue to curb the effects of this disease.
RALEIGH, MS - As Executive Order 1466, signed by Governor Tate Reeves on April 1st and placed the state under a mandatory shelter-in-place begins to expire, many are wondering what that means on a local level.
It should be known that the Executive Order that has replaced EO #1466, gives counties and cities the power to keep their local restrictions in place even though statewide restrictions may have lifted.
That being said, Smith County, and its municipalities, are still subject to the restrictions outlined in the March 31st Emergency Proclamation signed by the Board of Supervisors. These restrictions, while inconvenient, are completely necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Smith County's current case count stands at 65 cases, and these are county-wide, not isolated in one particular city. We have seen numerous Facebook posts falsely trying to pin one community for all of the cases in Smith County. This is just not true. Our 65 cases are spread across the county. That number continues to grow daily as testing capacity grows.
It is important to know that while the Governor's restrictions may have been loosened, the threat of coronavirus is still present. We want every Smith Countian to stay safe, practice social distancing, and stay healthy.
Finally, we want to end this update with a special thank you to all of our county EMA workers, our law enforcement officers, our care center nurses, EMTs, and anyone who is on the front-lines fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. We owe you our deepest thank you for the sacrifice you make every single day.
Stay safe, Smith County. As with all troubles that face our communities, we will make it through this one together.
RALEIGH, MS - Today county officials announced that soon, residents close to Smith County will have the opportunity to schedule a free appointment for a COVID-19 test. On Thursday, April 9, UMMC and the Mississippi State Department of Health will hold one day of drive-through COVID-19 testing at the Smith County Ag Complex in Raleigh. To get an appointment for testing, you must first be screened through the C-Spire Health app. The app, screening, and testing are free of charge. If you do not have a smartphone, you can call 601-496-7200 to be screened for testing eligibility.
On the day of your appointment, we ask that you enter the testing site from the north entrance off of State Route 35. You will turn onto Smith County Road 77, and then enter through the gate next to Center Ridge Water Association. Once you enter through the gate, we ask that you keep windows up and remain in your vehicle. Once you get to the testing area you will be approached by the staff that will be completing your test. After your test is complete, you will exit the testing area through the south gate, which will take you back to State Route 35.
If you need assistance, or have any questions about the drive-thru testing process, please feel free to contact the Smith County Emergency Management Agency at 601-782-9151. Keep in mind that testing will only be offered for one day, on Thursday, April 9th.
RALEIGH, MS - Today at 5:00PM, Mississippi will begin sheltering-in-place pursuant to Executive Order 1466, issued by Governor Tate Reeves on Wednesday, April 1st. With this unprecedented action, many Smith Countians are wondering "what does this mean for me?"
Well, simply put in a broad definition, shelter-in-place means that you are not allowed to leave your home or primary residence for any reason. However, in the case of the coronavirus, there are some exceptions on what you can do, and what you cannot do. It is the intent of the Smith County Emergency Management Agency to make sure you are informed and prepared for the next two weeks.
JACKSON, MS — Today, Governor Tate Reeves signed a new executive order establishing a statewide shelter-in-place for Mississippi to slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health of all who call our state home.
The Mississippi Department of Health determined that our state has now reached a critical point in the cycle of the outbreak, and Governor Reeves announced his decision to issue the shelter-in-place order for Mississippi at a press conference this afternoon.
Mississippi is rapidly increasing testing and strictly enforcing quarantines for anyone that investigators believe has been exposed to the virus. The shelter-in-place will begin this Friday, April 3, 2020 at 5:00 PM and be in effect until Monday, April 20, 2020 at 8:00 AM.
Here are Governor Reeves' remarks from today's press conference:
GOVERNOR REEVES: This is a somber time—for our country and our state. We are all in grave danger, from coast to coast. As leaders, our top priority is and always will be the safety of our citizens.
Every day, for the last several weeks, I have asked our health experts whether it is time for the ultimate action of a “shelter in place” order statewide. Yesterday, for the first time, we got the answer we had been anticipating. They told me we are now at the point in Mississippi’s cycle where such drastic restrictions are required. Today is the day. We are announcing a shelter-in-place order. It will go into effect on Friday at 5:00 PM.
I will let our top health official, Dr. Dobbs, explain his thought process behind the timing. I just want to offer a simple message to Mississippi:
This will not be easy for anyone, but we believe it is right. We know that there are many people who are scared: wondering what this means for their wages and their ability to put food on the table. We are here for you and working hard to help. Mississippi will not allow you to fall without a hand to help you back up.
We know that there are some who still do not have a healthy fear of this virus. They are wrong, and they are risking lives if they do not take this seriously.
This order will be enforced. It will be taken very, very seriously. It will not be forever. We will get through this and open our state back up as soon as our health experts tell me it is wise.
Our goal is to prevent our health care system from being overwhelmed. I pray that all of our orders and preparations will be enough. We believe that this is the right tool at the right time to save lives.
Today, this is the best course of action for Mississippi. I’ll turn it over to Dr. Dobbs for some more information.
In this latest executive order, the Governor lays out the guidelines of the statewide shelter-in-place to slow the spread of COVID-19, including:
Full text of the executive order is below:
RALEIGH, MS – As coronavirus begins to spread throughout the Pine Belt area, five cases were confirmed at the Mississippi Care Center in Raleigh on Tuesday. Following this announcement, an emergency meeting of the Smith County Board of Supervisors was called at the courthouse in Raleigh with county department heads, mayors, and chiefs of police from the county’s three major municipalities in attendance.
Smith County EMA Director Heather Easterling updated the board on the status of the situation at the nursing home. She informed the board that this is a serious situation and is not to be taken lightly. The nursing home had already established many precautions to limit the spread of COVID-19, but Mrs. Easterling advised that the Board needed to take further action. Following this advice, the Board of Supervisors, in conjunction with the mayors of Mize, Raleigh, and Taylorsville, passed a emergency order with several new restrictions. These include:
These restrictions, while inconvenient, are absolutely necessary for the protection of life within Smith County. These regulations will take effect immediately and continue until 30 days from the date of passage. You can read the full emergency order below.