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Tannehill: Area clinics to begin reporting COVID-19 data directly to City

The exact number of COVID-19 cases in Oxford has become unclear in the last week, but may become clearer soon.

In a video posted to her Facebook page, Mayor Robyn Tannehill announced that 14 area medical clinics that are testing for COVID-19 will begin reporting data directly to City Hall. This is to help give a more exact number of positive cases in Oxford and Lafayette County than is currently provided by the Mississippi State Department of Health.

The clinics will be giving data to Oxford emergency management officials, due to MSDH being unable to efficiently manage to report these numbers due to “outdated software,” according to Tannehill. MSDH informed Tannehill they have requested to upgrade their software, but updates have continuously been cut from budgets.

“The Department of Health is truly doing the best they can with outdated software and too few employees,” Tannehill said. “We believe it is critical for us to evaluate data for our community daily in order to determine how to best protect our residents. We understand we have not been getting the complete picture with the delays and the fact residents who list an address outside of Lafayette County are not in our case reports from the Department of Health.”

For the immediate future, the 14 locations will be provided an electronic method of reporting the positive cases directly to the City to help incorporate them into the cases being reported by the MSDH.

From June 17 to 21, the MSDH did not report daily updates of new COVID-19 cases on a county-by-county basis. During that time, Lafayette County received its highest five-day total of 45 new cases during that span. There were 15 more new cases reported in Lafayette County on Tuesday, with 85 of the 269 total reported cases being reported as active.

“This 45-case increase does not include non-Lafayette County residents,” Tannehill said.

During the Board of Aldermen meeting on June 16, Tannehill said at least 162 University of Mississippi students had tested positive with COVID-19 at four area urgent care clinics since June 1, with other students awaiting test results. The following day, Dr. Thomas Dobbs visited with Tannehill and doctors to discuss the issue, which Dobbs said were the beginnings of a “significant outbreak” in Oxford.

On June 20, Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi saw 8.3 percent of their hospital beds occupied with COVID-19 patients, according to Tannehill. As of Monday night, 3.2 percent of the total beds available were occupied.

“We believe these hospitalization numbers are not spiking due to the age group of the largest positive case increases being 18 to 24 years old,” Tannehill said.

With the rise in positive cases in Lafayette County, residents have asked Tannehill about tightening up restrictions and returning to Phase I of the recovery plan or even back to more restrictive guidelines. Tannehill said in her video that she feels the current guidelines are working, but needs the help of everyone for them to be effective.

“These large increases make it evident that the battle is not over,” Tannehill said. “It is our firm belief that the appropriate policies are in place. They are only successful if followed. Please wear a face covering in public, not for yourself, but for others.”

The full video can be viewed below:

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