Available hospital beds up 146 over same period, but there are 16 less ICU beds open across the state as 8 COVID patients enter critical care.

On Monday, the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) released its updated COVID case counts, showing 7,058 cases over a 5 day period from December 22 to December 26, 2021. That is nearly 1,412 per day, a sharp increase from the daily numbers over the past few months.

Predictably, those numbers easily wrote headlines across mainstream media news outlets.

However, at this juncture given the prevalence of the vaccine and its ability to lessen the severity of the virus in those who have received the shots, merely reporting on a rise in cases does not provide an accurate picture of the stress placed on the state’s health care system or the severity of the virus.

Later in the day, MSDH updated the hospitalization data related to COVID treatments. Over that same 5-day period, hospitalizations in Mississippi for COVID rose by 78 patients with 8 more in the ICU since the last reporting on December 21st.

That means that roughly 1.2% of those persons diagnosed with COVID entered the hospital during that same 5-day period, although it is not known when the patients listed with COVID in the hospital or in the ICUs were first symptomatic, if they have other underlying issues that may have necessitated their treatment in the hospital, their age breakdown, or what their vaccination status was at the time of seeking care. That clarifying data was not shown in the MSDH updated charts.

Using last week’s MSDH data as a guide, COVID-related hospitalizations remain the highest in those who have not received the vaccines.

Roughly 85% of all hospitalizations are of those who are either partially vaccinated or not vaccinated at all.

MSDH data shows that 94% of all COVID cases are in the unvaccinated or partially vaccinated population, although there has been no distinction yet as to any change in these numbers related to the new Omicron variant.

Mississippi remains in safe territory as it relates to available hospital beds and ICUs. The chart below provides a glimpse into the hospital availability across the state. Compared to the last reporting, the state has 146 more med-surge beds available and 16 less ICU beds open than it did on December 21st.

State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs tweeted on Tuesday that prevention is the best medicine. He noted that monoclonal antibody treatment is in short supply as Mississippi was allocated less than 400 doses this week. Dobbs encouraged those vaccinated to get boosted.