With Delta variant looming, average COVID-19 cases in Mississippi climb once again

Published: Jun. 30, 2021 at 9:56 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - As COVID-19 cases increase in some of the state’s counties, health experts remain concerned that Mississippi could see a third wave of infections due to a ‘perfect storm’ of conditions, including the increasing prevalence of the Delta variant.

While just 4 percent of coronavirus cases over the last week are attributed to Delta -- a much more infectious and deadly strain -- those cases will ultimately increase, especially in the estimated one million Mississippians who’ve yet to get the vaccine.

“The real question is whether it becomes a significant problem and, you know, crisis like it did in the early part of this year and, and then in the late part of last year. The hope is that enough people are vaccinated and were able to keep it at a reasonable manageable level,” said Dr. Alan Jones, assistant vice chancellor for clinical affairs at UMMC.

Right now, the state’s department of health said 31 percent of Mississippians are fully vaccinated, the lowest percentage in the nation.

Jackson State University assistant professor Dr. Nelson Atehortua said that’s one factor. Another one, he explained, is the relaxation of protective measures intended to slow the spread.

The most significant, however, is a factor the rest of the country has already seen.

“We have a variant like Delta that is 2.6 times more contagious than the others,” Atehortua said. “There is the possibility that - a distinct possibility for another wave.”

3 On Your Side found the biggest increases in COVID cases can be found in counties with large populations: Hinds, Rankin, Harrison, DeSoto.

Atehortua said that’s the same pattern we saw before the second wave in November.

“We need to look past whatever our political views are, whatever confusion we’ve had in the past, and really just kind of look at the present, and come together and say as a society, what do we need to do so that we can kind of get through this?” Jones said.

Jones said the biggest thing you can do is get vaccinated, get your relatives vaccinated and wear a mask when in crowds just in case you have the virus and don’t know it.

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