Prentiss County records first COVID-19 case

Lee, Tippah counties lead region in case count; More businesses, industries closing down as economic fallout begins to hammer the nation; Unemployment claims centers inundated; state, cities order all non-essential workers to stay home; business owners urged to complete, submit info for MEMA disaster

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Jase Stanley loads a food box into a pickup during last week’s monthly food box giveaway at Baldwyn High School. Thursday’s giveaway far outstripped anything organizers and volunteers had ever seen. In a normal month about 60 boxes are given away. However, around 200 boxes were distributed this month as more people showed up over fears related to the COVID-19 virus. News photos/Jason Collum

As testing has expanded throughout Mississippi and the United States, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 continues to grow.

Now, Prentiss County has had its first confirmed case.

The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) added Prentiss County to its list of cases on Wednesday, March 24. As of press time Wednesday there was only one confirmed case here. However, other nearby counties have been hit hard, with Alcorn, Benton and Tishomingo counties being the only remaining in Northeast Mississippi without confirmed cases.

Lee and Tippah counties continue to be the hardest hit so far. That is expected in Lee County, with a population of more than 82,000 and Tupelo being the economic hub of and the largest city in the region. As of Wednesday, Lee County had 14 confirmed cases. What is surprising, though, its Tippah County’s count, which stood at 11.

Statewide on Wednesday, MSDH reported a confirmed 377 cases across the state, with two deaths. The second death was reported Wednesday, a man aged 60-65 from Holmes County who had underlying health issues. The state’s only other death was an elderly man in Hancock County who also had underlying health issues.

Hinds County, home to the state capitol of Jackson, and DeSoto County, a suburb of Memphis, lead the state with 38 and 36 cases, respectively.

Business loss data needed

Businesses around the nation have been hammered economically as citizens have been urged to stay at home for anything other than food or medical care. Many factories have begun layoffs, and many other small businesses are being forced to follow suit. Those affected by plant closures or layoffs are urged to immediately file for unemployment benefits through the Mississippi Department of Employment Security (mdes.ms.gov).

Baldwyn Main Street Chamber Directory Lori Tucker shared information last week that is needed in order to help the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency determine the economic damage to businesses as a result of closings.

“MEMA is gathering information on the economic loss to small businesses as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak,” Tucker said. “We are collecting this information so that Mississippi may request an Economic Injury Declaration from the Small Business Administration to aid in the economic loss as a result of COVID-19.”

A form was emailed to Chamber business members and is available at City Hall. City Hall’s lobby is currently closed, but forms are available through the drive-through window. The deadline to submit forms back to City Hall is Monday, March 30.

Feeding students

The Baldwyn School District continues to feed students while schools are closed through at least April 17. 

On Monday, 156 children ages 0-18 were served a total of 624 meals, which is breakfast and lunch for Monday to Wednesday. Baldwyn Schools cafeteria staff and administration are handling the serving, and no volunteer help is needed at this time. 

According to the District, Baldwyn Schools’ child food services is open Mondays and Wednesdays for all children 0-18. Children must be present in vehicle for a head count for meals. Pick up will be Mondays and Wednesdays from 9-11 am through April 17. 

Instructions for food service pick up: 

1. Enter the BHS north parking lot from Highway 145/Fourth Street (near Bumpers).

2. Stay in your vehicle at all times. 

3. Car line will form for pick up at BHS gym main entrance. 

4. Child(ren) must be present for a staff person to approach vehicle and take a count, and then they bring food to vehicle.

5. Cones will direct exiting.