COVID-19 cases are spiking in Carroll and Montgomery counties as cases of the Omicron variant are on the rise. Both counties went from weeks of reporting cases in the single digits to seeing a steady rise as cases increase.
Montgomery County has seen an even bigger spike than Carroll County. Montgomery reported 123 cases the week of Jan. 1. During a two week period, from December 21 through January 3, the county reported 211 new cases. The county has reported 2,306 cases since March 11, 2020.
Carroll has seen an increase, but not as high as Montgomery County. During the week of Jan. 1, the county reported 89 cases. During a two week period, Carroll reported 160 new cases. The county has reported 1,961 cases since March 11, 2020.
Cori Bailey, administrator at Tyler Holmes Memorial Hospital said it doesn’t surprise her that Montgomery County’s number are so high.
“We’ve talked about it. The positivity rate is a lot higher,” Bailey said.
She said now instead of the rapid testing, Tyler Holmes now offer PCR [polymerase chain reaction] testing. Unlike the rapid test which only tested for a specific protein and took anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes, PCR tests detects genetic material from a specific organism, such as a virus.
“We can have your results back to you in a couple of hours,” Bailey said. She said during a conference with state public health director Dr. Thomas Dobbs, it was stated that the region that Montgomery and Carroll Counties are in have a 83 percent Omicron variant rate.
“They have the state broke down into eight to 10 regions and our region has a 83 percent Omicron variant rate, which means majority of the people in our region can contract the virus,” he said. “The symptoms are not as severe for some, which is a good thing. But, it’s like a wildfire that cannot be contained.”
Bailey had one request for the public: “Wear your mask.”
Civil Defense and Emergency Management Director Ken Strachan said he believes that a person should consult with their doctor to determine if he or she should be vaccinated.
“This year we are entering the third year of the pandemic, through COVID-19 we have distributed over 13,000 mask for citizens in Carroll County and have worked with the Mississippi State Department of Health to have testing and vaccinations here, the Carroll County Board of Supervisors adopted a pandemic and influenza plan annex back in March 2020,” he said. “Carroll County will continue our efforts of responding for public health.”
With the number of positive COVID-19 cases on the rise, local school districts are making hard decisions. Winona Christian students, faculty and staff will not go in-person on Thursday and Friday, according to Headmaster Jimmy Pittman. He said school personnel sent emails to parents earlier this week regarding the school’s decision.
“It was a good opportunity to take the five days,” said Pittman of the upcoming Dr. Martin L. King Jr. holiday weekend. “The new [Center for Disease and Control] guidelines say five days.”
As of Wednesday afternoon, Winona Christian personnel were gathering data on the number of students who were out due to COVID.
As for the Winona-Montgomery Consolidated School District, students will continue to attend class on campus, according to Superintendent Dr. Teresa Jackson.
Jackson and the trustees said they have been monitoring COVID data for each school. As of Tuesday night, the district has students and employees that were out due to being quarantined.
Carroll Academy Headmaster Penny Mitchell said due to a number of teachers and students being out, students will not attend class on Thursday and Friday.
“We’re going to take the next few days to spray everything down,” Mitchell said. “Hopefully, everyone will come back healthy.”
Mitchell said the Rebels’ basketball game, which was set for Friday night, has been rescheduled for a later date. Classes will resume on Tuesday, following the Dr. Martin L. King Jr. Holiday.
The Carroll County School District has maintained a mask policy since the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year. Masks must be worn inside and while children are on the bus. In the district’s policy it states that changes will be made as they are recommended by the Center for Disease and Control and by the Mississippi Department of Education.