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Mississippi reports highest COVID positivity rate since January

A drive-thru vaccination site in Forest, Mississippi.
A drive-thru vaccination site in Forest, Mississippi.Elijah Baylis/NYT

JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi health officials reported Monday that the state is seeing its highest number of new COVID-19 cases in months as the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus continues to spread.

The state is also experiencing a sharp increase in the percentage of positive tests.

“Our positivity rate is now the same as it was during the worst of COVID-19 in January. Delta is hitting hard,” the Mississippi State Department of Health posted on Twitter.

The department said Monday that 3,608 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Mississippi from Friday through Sunday. That compares to 2,326 reported from Friday through Sunday a week earlier — numbers that were highest in the state since February.

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The increase is happening as some schools are starting classes and thousands are gathering for the Neshoba County Fair.

Gov. Tate Reeves, who lifted all of his orders for mask mandates months ago, is scheduled to speak there Thursday.

Dr. Dan Edney, the state Health Department’s chief medical officer, said last week that people over 65, even if they are fully vaccinated “need to double think” whether to attend the Neshoba County Fair or other big events.