State Health Leadership Urges Caution As 1.5 Million Vaccinated With One Dose | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

State Health Leadership Urges Caution As 1.5 Million Vaccinated With One Dose

COVID-19 cases, deaths and hospitalizations are down from record numbers over the summer, but state health leadership cautions against thinking the disease is disappearing. Photo courtesy the Mississippi State Department of Health

COVID-19 cases, deaths and hospitalizations are down from record numbers over the summer, but state health leadership cautions against thinking the disease is disappearing. Photo courtesy the Mississippi State Department of Health

COVID-19 infections continue to decline across Mississippi, with hospitalizations and deaths dropping from August highs. Now 1.5 million Mississippians are vaccinated with at least one dose against the virus, but State health leadership cautions residents to remember that cases and deaths still remain high.

The latest data from the Mississippi State Department of Health show the weekly case average at 790 for the last six days—a significant decrease from summer highs of more than 3,000 new cases per day. Hospitalizations are also decreasing, with total intensive-care unit bed usage decreasing by one-third since August highs.

“Fortunately, we've seen the ongoing decline in our number of new cases, our hospitalizations,” State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said during an Oct. 1 press briefing with the Mississippi State Medical Association. “We lifted the statewide system of care plan this week so hospitals don't have to go through centralized control for ICU transfers, and so that's really great news, we’re moving along.”

Dobbs noted that more than 1.5 million Mississippians have received at least one dose of the vaccine, but urged more residents to get vaccinated.

“We need to get all those folks across the finish line,” Dobbs said.

The latest weekly data also show 211 additional deaths this week for an average of 30 lives lost per day to the disease, still higher than earlier in the pandemic.

“There were days in the summer that we were reporting out a hundred or less cases a day,” State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers said. “If we suddenly reported out 800 plus cases like we did today, everybody would think ‘oh my God, it's awful,’ but you put those 800 cases that we have now in context of the 1,500, 2,000, 3,000 that we've been seeing in the past couple of weeks or so, it seems less in people's minds.”

“That's still an enormous amount of cases that we're reporting now on a given day, and we're still reporting out high numbers of deaths on a daily basis,” Byers added.

“This ‘we're going to lose anyway’ mentality that we're playing out drives me bonkers,” Dobbs said. “How many people have died in Vermont … 250, the whole pandemic. How many people died in Mississippi? We’re going to hit 10,000.”

“There are two roads you can take, let's do a little Robert Frost,” he said. “Take the non-death road, please.”

As COVID-19 hospitalizations decrease, MSDH data show other kinds of hospitalizations on the rise. In an Oct. 1 Mississippi State Medical Association press briefing, Dobbs cautioned that the coalescence of COVID-19 with the incoming flu season may continue to tax the state’s health-care capacity.

“There's a real possibility that health systems are going to be stressed again going into the winter when we sort of merge COVID with flu,” Dobbs said.

Dr. Byers urged Mississippians to get their flu shot earlier rather than later. “Remember, you get the flu shot, that next day you're not magically protected. It's going to take a couple of weeks to be fully protected,” Byers said.

Email Reporting Fellow Julian Mills at [email protected].

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