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Byers: 80% of new Delta COVID-19 variants reported in Jackson metro area

State Epidemiologist Paul Byers
State Epidemiologist Paul Byers(WLBT)
Published: Jun. 29, 2021 at 3:31 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 29, 2021 at 4:00 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - About 80 percent of new Delta variant strains of COVID-19 have been reported in the Jackson metro area, so says State Epidemiologist Paul Byers.

Byers and State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs discussed the increase of COVID-19 cases in the state, which are being brought about by new variant strains.

They urged people to continue to get vaccinated against the virus, saying the vaccine does protect against more severe symptoms of the virus.

To date, 78 cases of the Delta variant have been reported in the state, with the majority of those in Hinds, Rankin, and Madison counties.

“Most of the cases have been identified in the Jackson metro area. It is over 80 percent in the Jackson area,” Byers said. “We anticipate we are going to see transmission throughout all parts of Mississippi... we’ve identified this variant in multiple parts of the state.

“CDC anticipates it’s going to be the predominant strain in the U.S. We anticipate the same in Mississippi.”

He said outbreaks are occurring among children of all ages, as well as in congregant and camp settings and in long-term care homes.

“When we identify cases, we find secondary cases (of Delta) being transferred down the line,” Byers added. “When you have a highly infectious variant, especially in a congregant setting, you can have cases of it occurs in fully vaccinated people.”

Cases are increasing, in part, because children are involved in summer activities, like cheerleading camp. Officials say cases are also going up because vaccinated and unvaccinated people are returning to work.

He said the good news is the fact that those who are vaccinated typically have mild to moderate symptoms, rather than the more severe symptoms that lead to hospitalization or death.

He and Dobbs continue to urge people to get vaccinated.

To date, about 31 percent of all Mississippians have been vaccinated, compared to 46 percent of the U.S. population. Among those 12 years and older, 35 percent of Mississippians have been inoculated, compared to 54 percent of eligible adults across the country.

“When you look at our population rate, the vaccination rates, compared to the U.S., are considerably lower across all age groups,” Dobbs said. “We’ve done a better job of vaccinating our individuals 65 and older. We still have a long way to go because we are still seeing deaths in vulnerable folks, over the age of 65.”

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