Almost 900,000 Mississipians are fully vaccinated as of May 18, and almost 60% of the country have received at least one shot. Photo courtesy Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from Unsplash
COVID-19 transmission has trended downward over the past several months as vaccination rates steadily increase, but officials from the Mississippi Department of Health say continuing this trend is not a certainty. State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs warned of a recent uptick in intensive-care patients due to COVID-19.
“We don't see a risk of a major new wave or excessive pressure on healthcare—but we will see cases and sadly deaths,” Dobbs said via Twitter on May 16. “It's mostly about protecting yourself now.”
MSDH reported 202 new cases today along with a slightly above-average 11 fatalities. Sixty-three COVID-19 patients remain in intensive-care units, while 33 patients are on ventilators.
In a May 13 press briefing, State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers explained how lax safety precautions can still lead to upticks in cases and deaths.
“Transmission remains low in many areas, but we know from our own experience that all it takes is for some transmission to ramp up very easily when individuals are in very close contact with an infected person, especially if those individuals are not vaccinated, or if they're not using appropriate care to wear a mask or social distance under circumstances that call for it,” Byers said. “It remains critical for individuals to continue to seek and get vaccination.”
Byers further explained the opportunities afforded to those who have received their vaccinations. In addition to being able to socialize outdoors without a mask, those with vaccinations may gather indoors without masks or with 6 feet of social distance. Byers noted that in gatherings with unvaccinated individuals, special precautions need to be considered.
“You can gather indoors with unvaccinated people of any age, from another household without wearing masks or without staying 6 feet apart, as long as there's not an individual within that group that is at higher risk for some significant outcomes,” Byers said.
Vaccinated individuals do not have to quarantine if they discover they were exposed to COVID-19, nor do they have to take a test prior to or after air travel.
The recommendation for vaccination now includes children as young as 12 years old. At least 22,000 children in Mississippi have contracted COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic.
MSDH is increasing coverage for rural vaccinations as well, looking to vaccinate those deemed most socially vulnerable and deliver vaccines to home-bound individuals.
Email Reporting Fellow Julian Mills at [email protected].