Mississippi’s total count of presumptive cases of the new coronavirus now stands at six after the state Department of Health announced details of two new cases Friday morning and details of three more cases Friday afternoon.

Of the six total cases, three are located in Forrest County, where Hattiesburg is mostly located. One case is in Leflore County, one in Copiah County and one in Pearl River County.

NMHS announces testing center

North Mississippi Health Services (NMHS) announced the implementation of a testing center for patients identified at risk for COVID-19.

The service is available by referral open and not open to the public. Samples collected will be sent to the Mississippi State Department of Health for testing. The location will not be disclosed to protect patient privacy and prevent unnecessary exposure.

NMHS will begin restricting visitation and congregation of people at its hospitals. For more information, refer to www.nmhs.net/coronavirus for future updates on visitation policies at NMHS campuses.

Latest from Mississippi

The Mississippi Department of Health released updated testing numbers indicating that its report of 90 individuals screened so far were accurate numbers as of Friday.

The Mississippi Insurance Department also released a statement, indicating that major health insurance carriers in the state, including Aetna, Ambetter, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Molina and United Healthcare, will waive the cost of COVID-19 testing when ordered by a healthcare provider.

Education reporter Blake Alsup continues to update a list of changes for area schools, colleges and universities. You can read the latest here.

Here's what you need to know about COVID-19: 

Gov. Tate Reeves has announced the creation of a steering committee to prepare for the coronavirus.

During a March 4 press conference, Reeves signed an executive order to establish the Mississippi Coronavirus (COVID-19) Preparedness and Response Planning Steering Committee. State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs and the Mississippi State Department of Health will lead the committee.

Dobbs described the coronavirus as the “pandemic scenario of our generation” and said that MSDH has been anticipating and planning a pandemic flu response with the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency for more than a decade.

More from Danny McArthur

NMHS being proactive about coronavirus, offers tips

NMHS is following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and is working closely with the Mississippi State Department of Health and the Alabama State Department of Health.

The first wave of preparations included educating emergency medicine staff at the North Mississippi Medical Centers in Tupelo, Amory, Eupora, Iuka, Pontotoc and West Point, Mississippi; and Hamilton, Alabama as well as North Mississippi Medical Clinics and North Mississippi Medical Center clinic locations throughout the hospital’s 24-county service area.

Individuals seeking care at NMHS clinics and urgent cares will see signage posted at the entrances. The signs provide these instructions: “Have you traveled to China AND have flu-like symptoms? STOP and please do not enter the building. Return to your vehicle and call 1-800-882-6274 for instructions on how to proceed with medical treatment.”

The guide includes information on personal protection and hygiene and links to information from the CDC. It also instructs schools to consult with their county health department and MSDH to determine when it is appropriate to close a school.

More from Blake Alsup and Danny McArthur

MSDH opens coronavirus hotline for questions

The Mississippi State Department of Health has activated a hotline number to answer the general public's questions about information about the coronavirus.

The department said in a Wednesday release they are answering questions from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., Monday through Friday on their new "COVID-19" hotline.

The hotline number is 1-877-978-6453.

Up-to-date information can also be found on MSDH's website at HealthyMS.com/COVID-19.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Twitter: @JLgrindin

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