Sunday, President Donald Trump signed the second pandemic relief bill of $900 billion. Among other benefits, the bill extends unemployment benefits and a moratorium on evictions, provides funds for states to distribute vaccines, and replenishes a small business loan program. It also provides a $600 stimulus payment to most Americans.
The virus: locally, state and nationwide
Warren County reported 79 new COVID-19 cases Sunday and Monday. The 14-day total of new cases is 404. The number of cases reported so far in December, 779, is already far higher than July’s previous high of 521, with another five days to go. Expect to see close to 900 cases this month.
Last week, 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.
The state is on track to see between 900 and 1,000 deaths in December 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, according to State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs.
Saturday was the first time in more than a month since Mississippi reported fewer than 1,000 new cases in one day. The drop in new cases is likely due to holiday closures and is probably an undercount. Fifteen of the 28 days in December have seen more than 2,000 cases per day.
With nearly 55,000 new cases reported so far in December, the state will see around 60,000 cases by the end of the month. Cases to date in December obliterate the previous monthly high of around 33,000 set in November and the July surge of 31,500 cases.
The state’s seven-day average of new cases is about 1,800 per day, with 12,589 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 at least 125 patients. On Christmas Eve, Mississippi saw 180 new admissions for COVID-19, a record high. 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.
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,” Dobbs said.
Nationally, the cumulative cases in the U.S. have soared to more than 19.1 million, with some sources putting the figure as high as 19.6 million. Numbers of new infections, hospitalizations 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 333,242.
At least 1,230 people died of the virus Sunday in the U.S., and at least 152,102 new cases were reported. The drop in new cases, about 12%, is likely because of holiday closures. Deaths have dropped 9% in the past two weeks. The number of people hospitalized across the nation is about 119,000.
For now, the explosive growth in new cases seems to be slowing, but some states are still seeing record numbers of new cases. California, for example, added more than 300,000 cases for the seven days ending Dec. 22.
The rate of new infections in the Midwest and Mountain States continue to show improvement, while 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.
The U.S. imposed new restrictions on travelers from the U.K. after a new, far more contagious variant of the virus was detected. Research shows the new strain in 56% more contagious than previous versions, although it does not appear more deadly. The variant has already been reported in numerous countries around the globe, and almost all of it has been connected to travelers from the U.K.
Local and statewide COVID-19 statistics for Monday, Dec. 28
In Warren County, MSDH reported 31 new COVID-19 cases Sunday and two new deaths. An additional 48 cases were reported Monday. The cumulative number of cases in Warren County to date is 2,566, and the county’s death toll is 77. The seven-day average of new cases in the county 34.1 per day, nearly seven times higher than in early November when the average was about five cases per day, and more than three times as high as the beginning of December.
Statewide, MSDH reported 1,365 new COVID-19 cases Sunday and 1,701 Monday, bringing the total cumulative confirmed cases in Mississippi to 208,089. The seven-day average of new cases is 1,798 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 41 more Mississippians died Sunday and 28 Monday of COVID-19 statewide. The cumulative number of deaths in the state is 4,634. 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. 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 79 deaths, a record number in one day, 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 has exceeded August’s.
Of the 41 deaths MSDH reported Sunday, four occurred between Dec. 22 and Dec. 24 in the following counties:
|County||Deaths reported Sunday|
An additional 37 COVID-19 related deaths occurred between Dec. 4 and Dec. 23 and were identified from death certificate reports.
|County||Deaths identified from death certificate reports|
Of the 28 deaths reported Monday, three occurred Dec. 25 and Dec. 26 in the counties below:
|County||Deaths reported Monday|
An additional 25 COVID-19 related deaths occurred between Nov. 12 and Dec. 20 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. Saturday, Dec. 26, and Sunday, Dec. 27. 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 (the latest available data from MSDH), 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 74.3% of the cumulative 208,089 cases reported as of Monday, Dec. 28.
The number of cumulative cases in Warren County three weeks ago, Monday, Dec. 7, was 1,957, therefore the estimated number of people presumed recovered in the county is 1,880, or about 73.2% of the 2,566 cumulative cases reported as of Monday, Dec. 28. The county has an estimated 609 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 Monday, Dec. 19, is 1,669,558 or about 56.1% 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 (positive results to tests, seven-day average); however, the estimated rate was 20.1% Sunday, according to Johns Hopkins University. The national rate is 10.3%, and 5% or lower indicates adequate testing.
The total number of outbreaks in long-term care facilities is 235 Monday, a decrease of four since Saturday. About 36.1%, or 1,673, of the state’s total deaths were people in long-term care facilities. The cumulative number of COVID-19 cases in LTC facilities was 9,139 Monday, about 4.4% 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.