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MS COVID deaths equal population of Bay St. Louis, health dept. warns. Here’s the new data.

·4 min read
COVID Act Now/HiGeorge

The Mississippi State Department of Health contextualized the state’s COVID-19 deaths on Thursday: the 10,000 deaths in is like all of Bay St. Louis dying.

The analogy, tweeted with a photo of a historic building on Main Street in the Hancock County city, comes as the state has signaled an increase in COVID hospitalizations.

“COVID-19 has been killing up to 50 Mississippians a week recently. If COVID-19 were a person, we’d be urgently defending our families and neighborhoods,” the tweet said.

The state health department reported on Thursday 569 new cases of COVID-19 and three new deaths in the state. On the Coast, there were 56 new cases and no new deaths. The state’s current case count totals 515,208, with 10,290 deaths.

In a similar tweet on Wednesday equating the state’s number of COVID deaths to the entirety of Yazoo City dying, MSDH highlighted the fact that deaths from the virus are more than ten years of motor vehicle deaths or nine years of cancer deaths.

“For every seven of us hospitalized for COVID-19, only six will live.”

Earlier this week, the health department had indicated a “concerning” upward trend in hospitalizations, encouraging residents to get their vaccinations or booster shots as protective steps in the coming weeks. Health officials continue to support vaccination as the strongest defense against the virus.

Now, 47% of Mississippians are recorded having have received both shots, with 19% having received a booster.

On the Coast, Harrison County and Jackson County are 41% fully vaccinated and Hancock is 32% vaccinated.

Coast physicians have long warned the area about the danger of additional COVID variants, especially as Southern Mississippi’s vaccination rates remain some of the lowest in the nation.

Global health officials have recently identified a new variant of concern, omicron, which was found in a COVID-19 case in California on Wednesday.

Preliminary data suggests there are increasing rates of hospitalization in South Africa, where omicron rates have risen, but this may be because of spikes in overall numbers of infected people rather than a result of specific infection with omicron, according to the World Health Organization.

Immunity across the state is around 75-80%, State Medical Director Dr. Thomas Dobbs said during a recent press conference, due to natural infection (the development of antibodies from previously having COVID) and vaccinations.

Immunity is now wavering, and the rates are not enough to reach a herd immunity rate of about 90%, so about 20% of Mississippi would fare poorly during another surge, officials said.

Singing River Health System pulmonologist Dr. Ijlal Babar in October said the chances of another variant spread across the state are “extremely high.”

Matt Walker, vice president of clinic operations at Memorial Hospital at Gulfport, said he anticipates that if the Coast could get “as vaccinated as we possibly can get” before the holidays, a future wave could be lessened. “Then, maybe come Christmas time, it won’t be as bad as the way it has been,” he said in an interview with the Sun Herald.

“This appears to be kind of the new... the new health care where we’re almost like an accordion, where we have normal operations for a few months followed by this wave of a new variant. If the vaccine proves to be a very good way to combat that and mitigate deaths in your community, we absolutely need people to take advantage,” he said.

Mississippi was the least vaccinated state when delta emerged in the U.S., and was one of the first states ravaged by the variant. After the strain’s fourth COVID wave in the state, Mississippi ranked first in death rates per captia in the country.

This article and live event is supported by the Journalism and Public Information Fund, a fund of the Gulf Coast Community Foundation.

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