Mississippi’s top public health official is urging residents to get vaccinated as the Delta variant of COVID-19 sweeps through the state. Cases and deaths are surging there as a dozen children are currently batting the virus in Mississippi ICUs; ten of them are on ventilators.
“We have a lot more vulnerability than we should,” said Mississippi State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs last Friday. “We are way under vaccinated as a state. We have a vast pool of un-immunized people who are a perfect breeding ground for Delta variant, and it’s gonna kill folks. And it’s already killing folks.”
“It’s the same pattern we’ve seen over and over again. I don’t know why we keep adding one and one together and are amazed when we get the result of two,” he added.
Just a third of Mississippi’s population has been vaccinated – only Alabama has a lower rate.
The Mississippi State Department of Health reported 219 new COVID-19 cases and 10 additional deaths on Tuesday, bringing the statewide total to 325,072 cases and 7,451 deaths since the pandemic began. Over the course of the last two weeks, the number of average daily cases has grown 94% in Mississippi. The vast majority of new infections are among the unvaccinated.
Alarmingly, younger patients are contracting COVID-19 in larger numbers than before. According to The Mississippi Clarion-Ledger, “residents between the ages of 25 and 39 represent the largest portion of the infected population in the state, with 72,667 cases reported Tuesday, the latest figure available. Among patients under 18, children between the ages of 11 and 17 have the highest infection rate, with 25,402 cases identified.”
Public health officials are also concerned about older Mississippians. The state issued guidance last week urging anyone 65 or older and those who are immunocompromised to avoid large gatherings. Mask wearing is also encouraged.
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Mississippi state health epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers specifically highlighted church groups, school and summer programs, funeral gatherings and workplaces as well as long-term care facilities as areas where officials are already seeing spikes in infections.
Many local doctors are urging residents to overcome their vaccine hesitancy.
Dr. Justin Turner, a Mississippi practitioner, told WLBT:
We’re talking about a selfless American act. We talk about independence. We talk about freedom. If we get the vaccinations that we need, we can move on. And instead of this possible surge we’re seeing, we’re seeing a surge right now with Delta cases in the hospitals. Do we think it’s going to be as bad as the winter months? Probably not. But we never know.
“Ask your doctor, not someone from the Facebook school of medicine,” added Turned. “But someone from an accredited school and let’s just get your concerns on the table.”