The MSDH predicts the delta variant will become the predominant strain of the pandemic across the country. 

The scientific community and the mainstream media are again issuing dire warnings and prompting talks of shutdowns like the ones endured in 2020.  The headlines are stark.

Mississippi currently has the lowest rates in the country when it comes to COVID vaccinations. State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers explained this week that Mississippi has 33% of the population with at least one dose of the vaccination while about 30% has been fully vaccinated.

Governor Tate Reeves posted on social media and confirmed that the state of Mississippi has administered 1.99 million doses of the COVID vaccine. Only 90 Mississippians are hospitalized, down from 1,444 individuals. There are also 356 new cases as of yesterday in Mississippi, which is significantly lower than at the beginning of the pandemic.

The messaging from the Mississippi Department of Health remains unchanged.  In a press briefing earlier this week, Dr. Thomas Dobbs discussed how the vaccine is very effective at not only protecting, but preventing transmission. He addressed how continued outbreaks will impede the ability to open schools fully without having to go through quarantines and close off events. It also threatens vulnerable groups due to risk of transmission.

There have been 826 cases of COVID-19 from six major variant strains reported in Mississippi as of June 28. The MSDH has anticipated that the Delta variant will be the predominant strain in the U.S. and across Mississippi.

The Delta variant of COVID-19 has made a significant increase week over week, increasing from 29 cases to 78 cases. This variant spreads more easily, especially among the unvaccinated, and may cause more severe illness. The Associated Press produced a report stating that nearly all COVID deaths in the U.S. are among the unvaccinated.  But in absolute numbers in a state with nearly 3,000,000 people, the impact of Delta variant remains small.

The Delta variant infection rate according to MSDH went up 162% last week. Curiously, 60 of the 78 cases of the Delta variant were located in Hinds, Rankin, and Madison Counties. When asked, Department of Health officials did not have a clear answer of why the cases were so concentrated in the metro Jackson area.  Yet, they remained concerned for the entirety of the state and are predicting that the Delta variant will be the dominant COVID strain going forward.

In the June 29 Variant Report on the MSDH website, the agency discusses 19 deaths of individuals in Mississippi, which were mostly unvaccinated Mississippians.

“Four of them were vaccine breakthrough cases, that means that they were fully vaccinated – these are individuals who ranged in age from 70 to 93. I do not have the vaccine type on my spreadsheet but these were individuals who were fully vaccinated,” State Epidemiologist Dr. Byers stated.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Mississippi’s COVID-19 hospitalization numbers and infections have significantly decreased. In January 2021, the 7-day case average was over 2,000 while on Tuesday, June 28th, 2021, there were only 118 cases.

Data on patients who are in an ICU, patients on ventilators, patients with suspected infections, and patients with confirmed infections have all been reported by Mississippi hospitals and collected by the MSDH. The number of patients who are affected by COVID-19 has dropped drastically since May 2020.  Hospitalizations are up marginally in the last week, but it remains to be seen whether this is a minor uptick or a true upward trend.  In absolute numbers, 122 Mississippians were being hospitalized for COVID and 33 were in ICU due to COVID.

Though many Mississippians have decided to become vaccinated, there is still a large portion of the state’s population that is not. The number of cases and hospitalizations decreased significantly, but Mississippi health officials are continuing to urge Mississippians to get vaccinated to protect the health of individuals across the state.

COVID-19 vaccinations for Mississippians are available at no cost from MSDH sites around the state, and from some local healthcare providers.