How Mississippi’s current COVID situation compares to previous surges

Published: Jul. 21, 2022 at 6:47 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Headlines of President Biden’s positive COVID test today have many wondering what’s going on with the virus. So, we’re looking at the status of cases and hospitalizations here in the Magnolia State.

There’s no denying it. COVID hasn’t gone anywhere and doctors are seeing more cases of it… again.

“Just this morning, I have personally taken care of three different patients who called and had home COVID tests that were positive,” said Dr. Mark Horne, CMO at South Central Regional Medical Center on Thursday.

“I think in a lot of hospitals in this region, we’re seeing similar things,” noted Dr. Steve Threlkeld, Baptist Memorial Health Care Medical Director of Infectious Disease. “That is that the hospitalized patients really have just not gone down.”

But how does our current COVID situation stack up with previous surges? Let’s look at the data to give you some perspective. Hospitalizations more than tripled in Mississippi during June alone. And they’re still steadily climbing. But we’re nowhere near where we were in the past. For example, at the end of January 2022, hospitalizations were up above 1,700 patients with confirmed cases-. Now, it’s fewer than 400.

“Our peaks are less severe, our acuity, the how sick people get is less severe in part because of vaccination, in part because of the previous infection, those prior infections are helping people get less sick this time, similar to what the vaccines do,” added Dr. Horne.

Still, the latest variant is proving to be more contagious.

“This virus is getting pretty good at getting around our defenses, even defenses that had been stimulated and kind of bolstered by vaccines and infection,” noted Threlkeld.

They’re finding that as COVID fatigue sets in, people are more likely to brush aside any symptoms quickly.

“I would say the majority of the cases that we’ve had, we have not had patients who were convinced it was COVID, they thought it was probably just a cold or you know, sinus symptoms, or even allergy symptoms,” described internal medicine specialist at Turner Care Dr. Justin Turner.

That’s why doctors are recommending getting up to date on your vaccines and staying home if you’re feeling sick.

“We don’t anticipate it being as bad as last summer, you know, with the Delta variant,” said Turner. “But we don’t know. And we don’t want to have to find out the hard way.”

The other difference compared to other surges is that fewer people are dying. And officials hope that trend doesn’t change.

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