The Mississippi State Department of Health provided an update regarding the current impact COVID-19 is having on Mississippians.

According to MSDH, 93 percent of current cases are coming from the new Delta variant. State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs says that at this time 95 percent of those cases are still being found in unvaccinated individuals. However, 20 percent of deaths are being found in those who have been vaccinated.

Of those deaths, most of the individuals who are vaccinated are elderly with underlying conditions.

Due to the surge in cases and quick spread of Delta throughout Mississippi, the department has released new recommendations for schools.

The MSDH is now following the CDC guidelines for children returning to school by recommending that all teachers, staff, faculty, students, and visitors wear a mask indoors regardless of their vaccination status.

However, this recommendation is not a mandate. Governor Tate Reeves has repeatedly said he does not plan to mandate masks in school for the start of the 2021-2022 school year. If he does not, it will be up to districts and individual schools as to whether they will require masks.

MSDH also announced that starting Thursday, July 29, hospitals will again begin complying with the COVID-19 Care Plan. This program will begin in order to help hospitals manage the capacity in which they are operating under with full ICU beds in hospitals in parts of the state and increased COVID hospitalizations.

The plan includes COVID-19 rotations within hospitals as well as a hold on some elective surgeries that require overnight care. The order is effective until August, 15, 2021.

Jim Craig with MSDH said many hospitals at the state are already operating at full capacities and their emergency protocols will only stretch so far with increasing numbers. He said in many hospitals patients that would normally be kept in ICU beds are being housed in emergency rooms due to a lack of space.

Dobbs indicated that the Delta variant is twice as contagious as the previous COVID-19 strain. He said they are also seeing an increase of infections in individuals under the age of 50, compared to what they saw last year.

So far in 2021, there have been two deaths of children under 18. That brings the state’s total to 4 since the beginning of the pandemic.

While there has been a significant increase in outbreaks within long term care facilities, Dobbs said most of those cases are among unvaccinated staff, not vulnerable residents.

They continued to urge the public to get the vaccine if eligible, especially if you have an underlying health condition.

Currently in Mississippi, anyone over the age of 12 can receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Pregnant women have also been cleared to receive the vaccine.