JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs painted a bleak picture of the COVID-19 front, saying numbers are going up and resources, such as ICU beds, “are tapped out.”
“It’s the good, the bad and the ugly. There’s some good vaccine info that came out this week, but as far as cases in Mississippi and the country, they are absolutely horrible,” he said.
“We’ve had phenomenal outbreaks. Schools are starting to see outbreaks. We’re starting to see outbreaks around basketball and extra-curriculars. We’re seeing growth in cases (in) older folks, 50 and above. And on top of that, the ICUs are full.”
Dobbs said a lot of the intensive care beds now are filled with COVID and non COVID-patients, and the number of patients needing beds is growing. Only one bed is currently available Hinds, Rankin and Madison counties Friday afternoon, he said.
“Take care of yourself. If you get sick, our resources are tapped out.”
More than 1,300 new cases of COVID were reported in the state as of 6 p.m., November 12, bringing the total number of cases to 131,970. More than 3,500 people have died, Mississippi State Department of Health figures show.
Meanwhile, some good news could on the horizon, with Dobbs saying Mississippi should receive its first batches of a COVID vaccine “as early as mid to late December.”
“We’ve been really excited about having a vaccine in the near future,” he said. "The Pfizer vaccine, the science behind it is really strong. It’s 90 percent effective in the short-term, with no adverse consequences.
“We’re probably going to get that one first.”
The first doses will go to healthcare workers – those working in healthcare settings, who are on the front line and those who are more vulnerable in contracting the disease.
Additionally, the state is expected to receive a small batch of a new treatment to treat high-risk individuals in the early stages of the virus. The treatment, Dobbs said, could arrive as soon as next week, and would be made available for high-risk patients, such as those living with Diabetes or hypertension.
Until help arrives, Dobbs and State Epidemiologist Paul Byers are recommending individuals who are high-risk to stay home. They also support scaling back school athletics and extra-curriculars until numbers again go back down.
“Schools have become a bigger issue this week,” Byers said. “I am worried about basketball and indoor (activities), basketball crowds, standing in line at concession stands.”
They pointed to the fact that the number of cases at public schools are growing, and as a result, several schools and school districts are going back to online learning.
At the same time, several football playoff games have been canceled becuase of COVID-19 outbreaks.
“It’s a good time for schools to look at virtual for a while. We really support that,” Dobbs said. “Kids benefit from being in class. We get that. But if you have an outbreak, a virtual break is a good idea.”
Dobbs further stated that cases are now growing in elementary schools, because high school kids are bringing it home to their families.
He and Byers recommend that schools cancel or postpone games, and forego having spectators at events.
Byers said the solution is to continue to wear masks and to stay at home, if possible.
As for Thanksgiving, he and Dobbs recommend small gatherings, with members of nuclear family only present.
“Big gatherings are a really bad idea,” Dobbs said. “You’re going to have a lot of sick folks who caught it during Thanksgiving.”
Health officials are also urging college students to wear masks, avoid gatherings and avoid going to bars and restaurants in the week or so before going home for the holidiays.
“Take care of yourself. Take care of your family,” Dobbs said. “Take care of your vulnerable, because it’s out there in force.”