TUPELO • Even as regional neighbors including Tennessee and Louisiana reported cases of the new coronavirus on Monday, Mississippi has no confirmed cases yet, with 14 individuals testing negative in the state so far.

The Mississippi Department of Health released updated testing numbers on Monday, indicating that its report of 14 individuals screened so far were accurate numbers as of Friday.

A spokesperson for the Health Department told the Daily Journal these testing numbers will be updated weekly.

According to that spokesperson, Liz Sharlot, testing for COVID-19 is being conducted using the latest criteria from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

The Health Department, however, would not release on Monday the number of testing kits currently on hand in Mississippi.

“We are not releasing specific numbers,” Sharlot said. “The Mississippi State Department of Health has adequate test kits and don’t expect a shortage at this time.”

Also on Monday, the state Health Department advised that longterm care facilities, like nursing homes, in the northern Mississippi counties DeSoto, Marshall, Tate and Tunica take additional precautions.

This warning follows the Sunday announcement of a coronovirus case in the Memphis area of Shelby County, Tennessee.

Advised precautions include halting group activities and restricting visitation, including visits by groups, children and the ill.

The Mississippi Insurance Department also released a statement Monday, 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.

“The MID has communicated with most health insurance carriers in Mississippi and each carrier has a contingency plan in place to deal with increased claims, member questions, and other communications,” said Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney.

Chaney’s office did advise that individuals review their policy and contact their insurance carrier for more details.

In Louisiana, Gov. John Bel Edwards said Monday a resident has tested positive for the coronavirus and is being kept in isolation in a New Orleans hospital.

Louisiana joins nearly three dozen other states reporting cases of the disease caused by the virus.

Edwards said the patient is a resident of the New Orleans suburb of Jefferson Parish, but he offered no details about the patient’s background or how the person may have contracted the virus.

The patient’s positive test results were being sent to the Centers for Disease Control for final confirmation. The governor said confirmation may take several days, though he added: “We are confident in the result of our test.”

Officials in Tennessee also confirmed the existence Monday of that state’s fourth case.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover. In mainland China, where the virus first exploded, more than 80,000 people have been diagnosed and more than 58,000 have so far recovered. The number of people infected in the U.S. climbed to around 600, with 26 deaths, at least 19 of them associated with a single Seattle-area nursing home.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

caleb.bedillion@journalinc.com

Twitter: @CalebBedillion

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