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Could Mississippi’s COVID-19 surge be waning? The data shows a little hope.



COVID-19 statistics for Mississippi are showing two areas that hold a glimmer of hope for the state that the worst of the surge that began in late October may be beginning to wane.

The first is that for the second consecutive day, the seven-day average of cases is slightly lower than it was a month ago. Friday’s seven-day average is about 2,075 cases, about 121 fewer, or about 5.5% lower, than the seven-day average of Dec. 15 of 2,196 cases per day.

The second glimmer of hope is that hospitalizations have been virtually flat and even decreased a bit in the last 10 days. On Jan. 4, total hospitalizations for the virus reached a high of 1,518. Wednesday’s hospitalizations totaled 1,453, a decrease of 65 people. This cautiously delivered good news is tempered by the fact that those seriously ill and on ventilators is about as high as it’s ever been in the state.

In addition, the expected surge of new cases and hospitalizations after the year-end holidays may still hit within the next week or two. Mississippi has already seen two record one-day highs in COVID-19 deaths this month: 98 reported Jan. 12 and 91 reported Jan. 5.

Friday, Warren County reported 32 new COVID-19 cases and three new deaths. Cumulative totals in the county are 3,378 cases and 95 deaths.

Based on the first 15 days of January, Warren County could see between 1,300 and 1,400 cases by the end of the month, eclipsing all monthly case totals so far.

Friday, the Mississippi State Department of Health reported 2,342 new COVID-19 cases statewide, bringing the cumulative total of cases to 248,189. It is the first day in the last five days with more than 2,000 cases reported.

In the first 15 days of January, the state has reported 32,378 new cases, with two days of more than 3,000 cases. If current trends hold, the state is on track to see its worst month yet, with nearly 67,000 cases.

Warren County’s 14-day total of new cases is 605 with a daily average of about 43 cases. The seven-day average is also about 43 cases a day, with 303 cases reported in the past seven days. The county is on the governor’s list of COVID-19 hot spots that include all but four of Mississippi’s 82 counties — Claiborne, Issaquena, Sharkey and Tunica — three of which neighbor Warren.

COVID-19 is one of the state’s leading causes of death at this time, according to State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs. To see other causes of death in the state, including deaths from flu and pneumonia, click here.

The huge number of cases means a corresponding rise in the number of hospitalizations in the state. With hospitalizations for COVID-19 hovering between 1,400 and 1,500, hospitals across the state — including Merit Health River Region in Vicksburg — are reporting that no ICU beds are available for any seriously ill or injured person, not just COVID-19 patients.

State health officials are strongly urging Mississippians not to hold or attend any gatherings that include people not in their immediate families. In addition, they urge wearing a mask in public, keeping 6 feet of social dista229,712nce and maintaining good hand hygiene.

The virus nationwide

The U.S. continues to lead the world in numbers of case and deaths by a wide margin. The number of cumulative cases is more than double that of India, which ranks No. 2, with four times the U.S. population.

Nationally, the cumulative cases in the U.S. have soared to more than 23.3 million, with some sources putting the figure as high as 23.9 million. Numbers of new infections, hospitalizations and deaths continue to rise sharply.

The number of people who have died in the U.S. since the beginning of the crisis is about 388,785.

At least 3,973 people died of the virus Thursday in the U.S., and at least 238,390 new cases were reported. The numbers of new cases have increased about 27% in the last 14 days. The rate of deaths has increased by about 39% in the past two weeks. About 128,947 people were in the hospital Thursday for COVID-19, an increase of 7% in the past two weeks.

Since September, the average numbers of cases have risen steadily from about 35,000 new cases a day to nearly a quarter million per day. The U.S. is also averaging more than 3,000 deaths per day. Tuesday, the nation set a new one-day record of COVID-19 deaths; 4,406 people died in a single day.

Surges in COVID-19 deaths in California and Arizona are fueling the monumental U.S. death toll, which is quickly nearing 400,000.

The worst-hit states are scattered around the country: Arizona, California, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and South Carolina are averaging the highest rate of new cases per 100,000 people. The states with the highest number of new cases reported in the last seven days include California, Texas, New York, Florida and Georgia.

Local and statewide COVID-19 statistics for Friday, Jan. 15

In Warren County, MSDH reported 32 new COVID-19 cases Friday and three new deaths. The cumulative number of cases in Warren County to date is 3,378, and the county’s death toll is 95. The seven-day average of new cases in the county is about 43 per day, about 43% higher than the average of cases a month ago.

Statewide, MSDH reported 2,342 new COVID-19 cases Friday, bringing the total cumulative confirmed cases in Mississippi to 248,189. The seven-day average of new cases is 2,075 per day, about 5.5% lower than the seven-day average a month ago. In January, the age group reporting the most cases in Mississippi are from 25 to 39 years old followed by those 50 to 64 years old.

MSDH reported Friday that 55 more Mississippians died of COVID-19 statewide, bringing the cumulative number of deaths in the state to 5,411. The state’s rate of deaths to confirmed cases is about 2.2%. This rate drops when the number of cases is going up faster than the number of deaths.

Deaths are a lagging indicator. The current surge began in Mississippi in late October, and nearly 1,000 deaths were reported in December. The state is seeing record deaths in January after record case numbers in December, with Tuesday’s 98 deaths and 91 deaths Jan. 9.

Of the 55 deaths MSDH reported Friday, 27 occurred between Jan. 3 and Jan. 14 in the following counties:

County Deaths reported Friday by MSDH
Benton 1
Bolivar 1
Desoto 3
Harrison 2
Jackson 4
Jasper 1
Lamar 1
Lowndes 3
Madison 1
Neshoba 1
Rankin 1
Smith 1
Tallahatchie 1
Union 2
Warren 3
Wilkinson 1

An additional 28 COVID-19 related deaths occurred between Dec. 17, 2020, and Jan. 10, 2021, and were identified from death certificate reports.

County Deaths identified from death certificate reports
Adams 1
Alcorn 1
Carroll 1
Choctaw 1
Franklin 2
George 1
Harrison 1
Hinds 2
Jackson 1
Lauderdale 3
Madison 1
Marshall 1
Monroe 2
Panola 1
Pearl River 1
Prentiss 3
Simpson 1
Sunflower 1
Tippah 1
Wayne 1
Winston 1

New cases and deaths were reported to MSDH as of 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 13. MSDH usually reports statistics on the COVID-19 coronavirus each day based on the previous day’s and death reports.

The primary metric concerning state health officials are the numbers of people hospitalized, and that number has risen steadily since Nov. 4, 2020. In the past 10 days, hospitalizations have remained flat and have even seen a slight decline. Regardless, COVID-19 hospitalizations threaten the state’s health care system as never before.

The number of Mississippians hospitalized for the virus as of 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 13, was 1,453. The number includes 1,366 with confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 87 people with suspected but unconfirmed cases. Of those with confirmed infections, 347 were critically ill and in intensive care units and 219 were on ventilators.

Source: MSDH

MSDH has estimated the number of people who can be presumed recovered from COVID-19 in Mississippi. That number is 198,888 through Sunday, Jan. 10. It represents about 80.1% of the cumulative 248,189 cases reported as of Friday, Jan. 15.

The number of cumulative cases in Warren County three weeks ago, Friday, Dec. 25, was 2,460, therefore the estimated number of people presumed recovered in the county is 2,365, or about 70% of the 3,378 cumulative cases reported as of Friday, Jan. 15. The county has an estimated 918 active cases.

These estimates are based on MSDH’s guidelines for calculating estimated recoveries when hospitalizations are not known, using the number of cases 21 days ago, less known outcomes (deaths).

The total number of Mississippians tested for COVID-19 (PCR and antigen tests identifying current infections) as of Saturday, Jan. 10, is 1,903,704 or about 64% of the state’s 2.976 million residents. MSDH reports statewide test results about once a week. Without daily updated numbers of tests, it is impossible to accurately calculate Mississippi’s positivity rate (which shows whether enough testing is being done, positive results to tests, seven-day average); however, the estimated rate was 26.7% Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins University. The national rate was 11.9%, and 5% or lower indicates adequate testing.

The total number of outbreaks in long-term care facilities is 220 Friday, unchanged since Thursday. About 33.5%, or 1,814, of the state’s total deaths were people in long-term care facilities. The cumulative number of COVID-19 cases in LTC facilities is 9,860 Friday, about 4% of the state’s total cases.

A total of 38 deaths in Warren County were residents of LTC facilities.

MSDH is no longer reporting outbreaks in individual long-term care facilities in Mississippi and has replaced that information with access to a database from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. You can access and search the data by provider here. The latest data available is for the week ending Jan. 3.

For additional information, visit the MSDH website or call the COVID-19 hotline seven days a week from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. at 877-978-6453.

Copyright © 2021 Vicksburg Daily News.

Vicksburg Daily News