Dobbs: More than a million more vaccinated needed in Miss. to ‘get over’ COVID

Published: Aug. 5, 2021 at 9:55 AM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The Mississippi State Department of Health is addressing the major spike in COVID-19 across the state due to the Delta variant.

State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs says the state is now seeing more than 2,000 cases per day on average. Thursday, more than 3,000 cases were reported in the state.

“It’s continuing to increase without any real sign of leveling off or a decrease,” Dobbs said.

He says the unvaccinated are driving the current surge.

Dobbs says the state needs more than a million more immune people to get over COVID--meaning more than 80% of the state needs to be vaccinated. Just 35% of the total population in the state is totally vaccinated.

University of Mississippi Medical Center, Mississippi’s only level 1 trauma center, said it’s at a breaking point Wednesday. They say just six ICU beds were available across the entire state as of Wednesday morning.

Dobbs says most emergency rooms in the state have no room.

State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers notes that vaccines are increasing. He says people are beginning to understand the significance of getting the vaccine as cases rise.

Mississippi trails the United States average in vaccination rates among all age groups.

“We are approaching where we were last December with overall cases,” Byers said, noting that MSDH does not believe the cases are even reaching a plateau yet.

Because death reports lag behind cases, Byers says MSDH is beginning to see an increase in deaths, but they expect those numbers to increase even more over the coming weeks.

Since January, Byers notes, 99% of COVId-19 cases are among non-vaccinated, and 98% of deaths are among non-vaccinated Mississippians.

The majority of vaccine breakthrough deaths are among people 65 and older.

“...Especially among those who are vulnerable and may not mount an immune response against the virus,” Byers said.

Senior Deputy and Director of Health Protection Jim Craig says the testing demand is also increasing across the state. Free testing is available for anyone at all health department testing sites in the state.

All county health departments also offer free COVID vaccines. Additional pop-up vaccines are being held for anyone 12 years and older.

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