State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs and other health officials have warned for weeks that the spreading Delta variant can mean a large spike in cases and deaths. It is now happening. Photo courtesy State of Mississippi
As the more contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 spreads throughout the state, the Mississippi State Department of Health reported 641 new cases today, the largest single-day number of cases since the spring. State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs called the report a “big jump” on Twitter this morning. That same report listed five fatalities, as well as 36 ongoing outbreaks in long-term care facilities.
Elderly COVID-19 patients are at greatest risk of severe symptoms of the disease, though Mississippi’s elderly population makes up its most vaccinated age group. Seventy-one percent of Mississippians aged 65-74 are vaccinated, while 68% of those aged 75 and up have received their vaccinations. This contrasts with lower rates among younger Mississippians, leading to an average vaccination rate of 31%, still hovering at the bottom of the national rate.
The Delta variant is most rampant among unvaccinated populations, leaving Mississippi at high risk for spreading the contagious disease. The variant now accounts for the vast majority of cases across the state, overtaking the earlier Alpha variant originating from the United Kingdom.
“Pretty much ALL cases in MS are Delta variant right now,” Dobbs said in a July 12 tweet. “Vast majority of cases/hospitalizations/deaths UNVACCINATED.”
Of further concern is Dobb’s report of seven children in intensive-care units with the Delta variant. Two of these children are currently on life-supporting ventilators. Children under age 12 are not currently eligible for vaccination, but Dobbs urged those eligible to get vaccinated.
“Please be safe and if you are 12 or older - please protect yourself,” Dobbs tweeted.
Meanwhile, MSDH has taken steps to limit misinformation about COVID-19 on Facebook.
“The comments section of our Facebook page has increasingly come to be dominated by misinformation about COVID-19,” MSDH Communications Director Liz Sharlot said in a July 13 statement.
Comments that “mislead the public about the safety, importance and effectiveness of vaccination” are “directly contrary” to the department’s job.
“The delta variant has changed the COVID-19 landscape—it's more infectious and more deadly, and is rapidly infecting Mississippians,” MSDH notes on its Facebook page.
More than 1 million Mississippians are now vaccinated. The state has suffered from 325,713 cases of the disease so far, however, and 7,456 Mississippians have lost their lives. In light of the race between vaccinations and virus mutations, MSDH urges residents to get vaccinated.
“Please take the time to protect yourself. Vaccinations are easy to get, and COVID-19 is too serious to risk,” the Department of Health warned.
Email Reporting Fellow Julian Mills at [email protected].