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First COVID-19 vaccine is on its way to the states



Friday, the federal Food and Drug Administration gave its final emergency approval to begin using the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. The approval triggered an immediate effort to distribute 2.9 million doses of the vaccine across the nation. Pfizer has contracted with the U.S. to supply 100 million doses by March 2021, and the shots will be free to public.

In addition, McKesson Corporation is distributing kits of syringes, alcohol pads, face shields and other supplies to distribution sites identified by all U.S. states and territories.

The approval makes the U.S. the sixth country to approve Pfizer’s vaccine. The first five were Britain, Bahrain, Canada, Saudi Arabia and Mexico. Numerous other countries and the European Union are expected to authorize distribution within the next week or so.

Mississippi is slated to receive enough doses for 25,000 people by next week. The first round of vaccines will go to health care workers on the front line of treating COVID-19 patients. Top state health officials Dr. Thomas Dobbs and Dr. Paul Byers will be the first to receive the shots in a public demonstration that the vaccine can be trusted.

The virus: locally, state and nationwide

On the 18th consecutive day of reporting more than 1,000 new cases per day, Mississippi reported 2,665 new COVID-19 cases Saturday, a fourth consecutive day of 2,000-plus cases. Two-thirds of the first 12 days of December have seen more than 2,000 cases per day.

The state’s seven-day average of new cases is over 2,000 per day, with 14,489 new cases reported in the last week. The highest seven-day average in the last surge was around 1,360 for the week ending July 30.

Warren County reported 38 new cases Saturday. The 14-day total of new cases is 340, putting the county well into Gov. Tate Reeves hot spot definition that brings with it the probability of increased COVID-19 restrictions.

Hospitalizations have now surpassed the July high of around 1,250, and hospitals statewide are reporting that they have no ICU beds available.

Nationally, the cumulative cases in the U.S. have soared to about 16 million, and the rates of infection, hospitalization and deaths continue to rise.

At least 2,951 people died of the virus Friday in the U.S. and 280,514 new cases were reported. As expected, the rate of deaths is increasing steeply after a surge in new cases. Deaths have increased 60% in the past two weeks, while cases have gone up about 25%. The number of people hospitalized across the nation now exceeds 108,100.

Local and statewide COVID-19 statistics for Saturday, Dec. 12

In Warren County, MSDH reported 38 new COVID-19 cases Saturday and no new deaths. The cumulative number of cases in Warren County to date is 2,108, and the county’s death toll is 64. The seven-day average of new cases in the county has risen to 25.4 per day, five times higher than in early November when the average was about five cases per day.

Statewide, MSDH reported 2,665 new COVID-19 cases Saturday, bringing the total cumulative confirmed cases in Mississippi to 177,947. The seven-day average of new cases is 2,070 per day, more than double the seven-day average a month ago, when the state’s numbers were already on the rise. The current averages far outstrip the numbers seen at the height of the last surge in July.

At the beginning of the crises, the age group with the most COVID-19 cases were those over 65. Now, most new cases are seen in younger people who are more likely to survive the virus than those 65 and older. In December, 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 Saturday that 56 more Mississippians died of COVID-19 statewide. The cumulative number of deaths in the state is 4,180. The state’s rate of deaths to confirmed cases is about 2.5%. This rate has dropped slightly as the number of cases are going up faster than the number of deaths at this time.

Deaths are a lagging indicator. While July saw the highest number of new cases since the crisis began, August saw the highest number of deaths. The highest number of deaths in any one day in Mississippi was 67 reported Aug. 25.

Of the 56 deaths MSDH reported Saturday, 32 occurred between Nov. 20 and Dec. 11 in the following counties:

County Deaths reported Saturday
Alcorn 1
Attala 1
Covington 3
Desoto 1
Forrest 1
Grenada 1
Harrison 3
Hinds 3
Jackson 2
Lafayette 2
Lowndes 1
Marion 1
Neshoba 2
Newton 1
Prentiss 1
Rankin 1
Scott 1
Tippah 1
Webster 1
Winston 2
Jefferson Davis 1
Smith 1

Another 24 COVID-19-related deaths occurred between Nov. 5 and Dec. 6 and were identified from death certificate reports.

County Deaths identified from death certificate reports
Chickasaw 1
Choctaw 1
Clay 1
Desoto 2
George 1
Hancock 1
Jackson 1
Jones 1
Lauderdale 3
Lee 1
Leflore 1
Marion 1
Montgomery 2
Neshoba 1
Rankin 5
Stone 1

New cases and deaths were reported to MSDH as of 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 11. MSDH usually reports statistics on the COVID-19 coronavirus each day based on the previous day’s testing 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. 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. Thursday, Dec. 10, was 1,267. The number includes 1,156 with confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 111 people with suspected but unconfirmed cases. Of those with confirmed infections, 295 were critically ill and in intensive care units and 177 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 136,627 through Sunday, Dec. 6. It represents about 76.8% of the cumulative 177,947 cases reported as of Saturday, Dec. 12.

The number of cases in Warren County three weeks ago, Saturday, Nov. 21, was 1,707, therefore the estimated number of people presumed recovered in the county is 1,643, or about 77.9% of the 2,108 cumulative cases reported as of Saturday, Dec. 12. The county has an estimated 401 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, Dec. 5, is 1,436,626 or about 48.3% of the state’s 2.976 million residents. MSDH reports statewide test results once a week. Without daily updated numbers of tests, it is impossible to accurately calculate Mississippi’s positivity rate (positive results to tests, seven-day average); however, the estimated rate was 23.9% Friday, according to Johns Hopkins University. The national rate is 11%, and 5% or lower indicates adequate testing.

The total number of outbreaks in long-term care facilities is 218 Saturday, an increase of two since Friday. About 37.3%, or 1,540, of the state’s total deaths were people in long-term care facilities. The cumulative number of COVID-19 cases in LTC facilities was 8,380 Friday, about 4.8% of the state’s total cases.

A total of 30 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 it 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 Nov. 29.

For additional information, visit the MSDH website.

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