State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs said this week that if Mississippians don’t start adhering to social distancing guidelines then the state could be bracing for a large COVID impact this fall. 

The State Health Department reported 611 new confirmed cases of the virus on Tuesday, the highest one-day total since the state found its first case on March 11. The state reported 526 newly discovered infections on Wednesday, bringing the seven-day rolling average to a new high of 397.4 cases a day.

Mississippi also reported its 1,000th death from the virus Wednesday. The department announced 10 deaths from Tuesday and 12 previously unreported deaths, bringing the total number to 1,011. Despite the grim milestone, data show the death rate from the novel Coronavirus among Mississippians has continued to fall for the third week in a row.

Madison, with the sixth-largest population among Mississippi’s 82 counties, currently has the second-highest number of cases with 1,034 verified infections. The county has also experienced 31 deaths, including 16 in long-term care facilities.

Mississippi is one of 27 states where the count of new cases has steadily increased as workers and patrons have returned to businesses, which were shuttered for more than a month following the on-set of the pandemic. Gov. Tate Reeves’ plan to reopen Mississippi in several phases mirrored those of his contemporaries in other states.

Among the states with increasing cases are neighboring Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas and Louisiana. According to the New York Times, 13 states are seeing little or no change in their numbers, while 10 are experiencing a decrease in the spread.

Current state orders recommend businesses limit the number of customers to 50 percent of normal capacity. In addition, restaurants and bars are being asked to keep parties or groups separated by a minimum of six feet, screen employees for symptoms daily and require them to cover their mouth and nose when serving the public.

While youth sports have been allowed to resume play under the current guidelines, participants must also be screened for symptoms, concession stands must remain closed and fans are advised to maintain six feet of separation. Social gatherings indoors are still limited to 20 people if social distancing cannot be assured and 50 if it can. Likewise, outdoor gatherings should be limited to 50 people with proper distancing and 100 without it.

Dobbs has said in multiple briefings that some people just aren’t adhering to social distancing guidelines and that’s a reason for increased numbers throughout the state.