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Rising COVID cases in Mississippi nursing homes attributed to unvaccinated staff

(Jean-Francois Badias | AP)
Published: Aug. 18, 2021 at 6:46 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Just a few months ago COVID cases were on the decline in area nursing homes, but the Delta variant is now reversing the course. One elderly advocacy organization wants those working around and caring for them to get the shot.

Retirement facilities like Ridgeland Place made sure eligible residents were vaccinated, but as COVID cases resurge AARP warns that may not be enough to save those in nursing homes and long-term living facilities.

“The residents have done well with getting vaccinated,” said AARP MS State Director Kimberly Campbell. “The staff is not.”

AARP reports that in the four weeks ending July 18, COVID cases rose among nursing home residents and staff. Over the course of the pandemic, nearly 2,000 residents and staff have died.

Officials at Ridgeland Place report no cases of the virus.

“We’re calling on those facilities to require, we’re not just asking,” said Campbell. “We want these facilities to require and mandate that all staff and personnel, anyone that works in those facilities that they get vaccinated and get vaccinated immediately.”

According to AARP data, 47.7 percent of Mississippi health care staff are fully vaccinated. As of August 17, the State Department of Health reports total numbers of more than 10,800 cases of COVID in long-term care facilities and more than 2,000 deaths.

Hinds County has 829 cases and 137 deaths. There were 405 cases in Madison County and 70 deaths. Four-hundred-and-seventy-two cases were recorded in Rankin County with 65 deaths.

Residential care facilities report 208 COVID cases and 13 deaths.

AARP Mississippi is calling on state leaders to impose vaccine mandates for employees of these facilities.

“These breakouts that we’re seeing at the long-term care facilities, it’s from staff,” added Campbell. “It’s from outsiders coming into the facility.”

The University of Mississippi Medical Center is requiring all employees and students to be vaccinated or wear masks.

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