The Mississippi State Department of Health named Union County Health and Rehabilitation Center as the local long-term care facility that currently has an outbreak of COVID-19 cases.

According to MSDH, 14 employees and 23 residents at Union County Health and Rehab have tested positive for the Coronavirus as of Tuesday. Seven of the 23 residents are listed as having died as a result of complications due to the virus. Twenty of the facility's residents and six of those deaths are listed by the Department of Health as being Union County residents.

This information was released as part of a list of long-term care facilities in each county of Mississippi where a COVID-19 outbreak has occurred. According to MSDH, each facility self-reports its numbers on a daily basis.

When asked for comment, a spokesman for the Union County Health and Rehab declined to do so.

The State Department of Health's decision to release this list came only after the Pine Belt News and its parent company, Hattiesburg Publishing Inc., sued the department for not responding to a public records request for the information. A Hinds County chancery judge ruled May 26 that the department must respond to the request. In his ruling, the judge said the department must either release the information sought in the request or cite a specific exemption in the Public Records Act that would allow withholding the information. The State Attorney General's office then recommended the health department release the names of these facilities and MSDH announced Tuesday it would begin releasing this information on Wednesday.

MSDH has been including the number of COVID-19 cases long-term care facilities by county for several weeks now. But Dr. Thomas Dobbs, head of the department, previously said releasing the facilities' names could make it difficult for them to hire new employees.

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