It has been a month since Mississippi reported fewer than 1,000 new cases in one day. Fifteen of the 24 days in December have seen more than 2,000 cases per day.
Warren County reported 37 new COVID-19 cases Thursday. The 14-day total of new cases is 418. The number of cases reported so far in December, 656, is more than July’s total of 521, with another seven days to go. Expect to see about 850 cases this month if the trend doesn’t change.
Tuesday, Gov. Tate Reeves added Warren County to his list of hot spot counties that now include all but four of Mississippi’s 82 counties — Claiborne, Issaquena, Sharkey and Tunica — three of which neighbor Warren.
Tuesday also saw Mississippi’s and Warren County’s highest number of deaths reported in one day since the crises began: 79 in the state and five deaths in the county. The state is on track to see about 1,000 deaths in December alone making it the deadliest month for the virus in 2020. COVID-19 is one of the state’s leading causes of death at this time.
With more than 49,000 new cases reported so far in December, the state will see more than 63,000 cases by the end of the month if the current trend continues. Cases to date in December already obliterate the previous monthly high of around 33,000 set only last month and the July surge of 31,500 cases.
State health officials expect cases, hospitalizations and deaths to go even higher in January after the Christmas and New Year holidays and are strongly urging Mississippians not to hold parties or other large gatherings that include people not in their immediate families.
The state’s seven-day average of new cases is more than 2,100 per day, with 14,747 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.
The huge number of cases means a corresponding rise in the number of hospitalizations in the state. Hospitalizations surpass the July high of around 1,250 by more than 125 patients. Hospitals across Mississippi — 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.
Mississippi’s health care system is overwhelmed, with another surge expected after the Christmas and New Year holidays. “It’s bad, and it’s getting worse,” said State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs.
As of Dec. 15, the Mississippi State Department of Health suspended elective surgeries statewide.
Nationally, the cumulative cases in the U.S. have soared to more than 18.5 million, with some sources putting the figure as high as 18.9 million. Rates of infection, hospitalization and deaths continue to rise although the rate of new cases seems to be slowing.
The number of people who have died in the U.S. since the beginning of the crisis is about 326,413.
At least 3,411 people died of the virus Wednesday in the U.S., and at least 227,522 new cases were reported. As expected, the rate of deaths is increasing faster after a surge in new cases. Deaths have increased 15% in the past two weeks, while cases have gone up about 2%. The number of people hospitalized across the nation is about 119,500.
California added more than 300,000 cases for the seven days ending Dec. 22, while the Midwest and Mountain States continue to show improvement. The South is emerging as one of the nation’s most affected regions. Tennessee is seeing more cases per capita than any other state, and Alabama is setting records for new cases and deaths. Mississippi is among several states where new deaths are on the rise.
Local and statewide COVID-19 statistics for Thursday, Dec. 24
In Warren County, MSDH reported 37 new COVID-19 cases Thursday and no new deaths. The cumulative number of cases in Warren County to date is 2,443, and the county’s death toll is 74. The seven-day average of new cases in the county 28.6 per day, more than five times higher than in early November when the average was about five cases per day.
Statewide, MSDH reported 2,326 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, bringing the total cumulative confirmed cases in Mississippi to 202,651. The seven-day average of new cases is 2,107 per day, about 60% higher than 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 that 24 more Mississippians died Thursday of COVID-19 statewide. The cumulative number of deaths in the state is 4,557. The state’s rate of deaths to confirmed cases is about 2.3%. This rate drops when the number of cases is going up faster than the number of deaths.
Deaths are a lagging indicator. During last summer’s surge, for example, July broke records for new cases. In August, deaths spiked. The current surge began in Mississippi in late October, and the state saw a record number of deaths in one day, 79, on Dec. 22. Before that, the highest number of one-day deaths in Mississippi was 67 reported Aug. 25. November and December case numbers have exceeded cases reported in July, and December’s death toll is on track to exceed August’s.
Of the 24 deaths MSDH reported Thursday, 22 occurred between Dec. 17 and Dec. 23 in the following counties:
|County||Deaths reported Thursday|
Another two COVID-19 related deaths occurred between Dec. 5 and Dec. 8 and were identified from death certificate reports.
|County||Deaths identified from death certificate reports|
New cases and deaths were reported to MSDH as of 6 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 23. 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. Tuesday, Dec. 22, was 1,377. The number includes 1,312 with confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 65 people with suspected but unconfirmed cases. Of those with confirmed infections, 339 were critically ill and in intensive care units and 195 were on ventilators.
MSDH has estimated the number of people who can be presumed recovered from COVID-19 in Mississippi. That number is 154,669 through Sunday, Dec. 20. It represents about 76.3% of the cumulative 202,651 cases reported as of Thursday, Dec. 24.
The number of cumulative cases in Warren County three weeks ago, Thursday, Dec. 3, was 1,849, therefore the estimated number of people presumed recovered in the county is 1,775, or about 72.7% of the 2,443 cumulative cases reported as of Thursday, Dec. 24. The county has an estimated 594 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. 19, is 1,669,558 or about 56.1% 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 23.4% Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins University. The national rate is 11.2%, and 5% or lower indicates adequate testing.
The total number of outbreaks in long-term care facilities is 239 Thursday, an increase of one since Wednesday. About 36.4%, or 1,658, of the state’s total deaths were people in long-term care facilities. The cumulative number of COVID-19 cases in LTC facilities is 9,099 Thursday, about 4.5% of the state’s total cases.
A total of 37 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 Dec. 13.
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. The hotline will close at 4 p.m., Dec. 24, and will be closed Dec. 25.