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Mississippi tops 1,000 deaths from COVID-19 as cases rise

June 24, 2020 GMT
In this Thursday, June 11, 2020 photo, technicians begin gathering samples from area residents as part of a free COVID-19 testing center at the Family Resource Center on South Church Street in Tupelo, Miss. (Thomas Wells/The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal via AP)
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In this Thursday, June 11, 2020 photo, technicians begin gathering samples from area residents as part of a free COVID-19 testing center at the Family Resource Center on South Church Street in Tupelo, Miss. (Thomas Wells/The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal via AP)
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In this Thursday, June 11, 2020 photo, technicians begin gathering samples from area residents as part of a free COVID-19 testing center at the Family Resource Center on South Church Street in Tupelo, Miss. (Thomas Wells/The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal via AP)

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi has surpassed 1,000 deaths from the new coronavirus, according to numbers released by the state Health Department on Wednesday.

The numbers showed the second-highest single-day increase in cases in Mississippi. The highest single-day number was the day before.

The state health officer, Dr. Thomas Dobbs, had said Tuesday that Mississippi is seeing a surge of cases because people are ignoring safety guidelines by having large gatherings and not wearing masks.

“It’s not a joke. Really bad things are going to happen,” Dobbs told The Associated Press.

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Republican Gov. Tate Reeves had COVID-19 news briefings several times a week for more than two months. He has not had one this week.

In early June, Reeves lifted most of the restrictions he had put on businesses weeks earlier to try to slow the spread of the highly contagious virus. He has mandated that people wear masks in public in only a few counties that have had larger outbreaks than other parts of the state.

The Health Department said Wednesday that Mississippi has had at least 23,424 cases and 1,011 deaths from the coronavirus as of Tuesday evening. That was an increase of 526 cases and 22 deaths from the numbers reported a day earlier; the deaths include 12 that occurred between May 30 and June 14 with information from death certificates arriving later. Mississippi has a population of about 3 million.

The number of coronavirus infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected without feeling sick. For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up within weeks. For others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause severe symptoms and be fatal.

The Health Department said Tuesday at least 2,437 cases of the virus have been confirmed in long-term care facilities such as nursing homes, with at least 501 virus-related deaths in those facilities.

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Follow AP coverage of the pandemic at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.