Monday, Mississippi received enough doses of the Pfizer vaccine for 25,000 people. The first round of vaccines is going to health care workers on the front line of treating COVID-19 patients, and vaccinations in some hospitals began Tuesday.
The next group of Mississippians to receive vaccines will be patients and staff in long-term care facilities, who are especially vulnerable to contracting and dying from the virus. Although the number of cases in LTC facilities make up less than 5% of the state’s total cumulative cases, the rate of death is disproportionately high at around 37%.
Healthy Mississippians may be unable to get the vaccine until next spring at the earliest, and health officials continue to urge people to wear masks, social distance, avoid large gatherings and practice good hand hygiene to curb the spread of the disease.
A second vaccine from Moderna is expected to receive the go-ahead from the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use by the end of the week, making additional doses of vaccine available almost immediately.
The virus: locally, state and nationwide
Warren County reported 32 new cases Wednesday. The 14-day total of new cases is 389. The county’s case load has put it well into Gov. Tate Reeves hot spot definition for more than a week. If the county is designated a hot spot, it brings with it the probability of increased COVID-19 restrictions.
The county’s number of cases so far in December is 432, already more than twice the cases reported in November. The 10 deaths reported this month stand in stark contrast to the one death reported in November. If current trends hold, the county could see more than 840 new cases in December alone, making it the worst month ever since the beginning of the crisis.
It has been more than three weeks since Mississippi has seen fewer than 1,000 new cases reported in a single day. Mississippi reported 2,343 new cases Wednesday. Nine of the first 16 days in December have seen more than 2,000 cases per day.
With more than 32,000 new cases reported so far in December, the state will see more than 62,000 cases by the end of the month if the current trend continues. The number will obliterate previous monthly highs of around 34,000. State health officials expect cases to go even higher in January after the Christmas and New Year holidays, and are urging Mississippians not to hold parties or attend 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 14,971 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. Hospitals across Mississippi are already reporting that no ICU beds are available for any seriously ill or injured person, not just COVID-19 patients. As of Tuesday, the Mississippi State Department of Health suspended elective surgeries statewide.
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 more than 16.7 million, and the rates of infection, hospitalization and deaths continue to rise. The number of people who have died in the U.S. since the beginning of the crisis is nearly 304,000.
At least 2,357 people died of the virus Tuesday in the U.S. and at least 201,649 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 28%. The number of people hospitalized across the nation now exceeds 112,800.
Local and statewide COVID-19 statistics for Wednesday, Dec. 16
In Warren County, MSDH reported 32 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday and no new deaths. The cumulative number of cases in Warren County to date is 2,219, and the county’s death toll is 67. The seven-day average of new cases in the county has risen to 30.7 per day, nearly six times higher than in early November when the average was about five cases per day.
Statewide, MSDH reported 2,343 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, bringing the total cumulative confirmed cases in Mississippi to 185,643. The seven-day average of new cases is 2,139 per day, about 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 that 42 more Mississippians died Wednesday of COVID-19 statewide. The cumulative number of deaths in the state is 4,252. The state’s rate of deaths to confirmed cases is about 2.3%. This rate drops as the number of cases go up faster than the number of deaths.
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 42 deaths MSDH reported Wednesday, 33 occurred between Nov. 28 and Dec. 15 in the following counties:
|County||Deaths reported Wednesday|
An additional nine COVID-19 related deaths occurred between Nov. 13 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. Tuesday, Dec. 15. 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. Monday, Dec. 14, was 1,319. The number includes 1,238 with confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 81 people with suspected but unconfirmed cases. Of those with confirmed infections, 310 were critically ill and in intensive care units and 187 were on ventilators.
MSDH has estimated the number of people who can be presumed recovered from COVID-19 in Mississippi. That number is 148,466 through Sunday, Dec. 13. It represents about 80% of the cumulative 185,643 cases reported as of Wednesday, Dec. 16.
The number of cumulative cases in Warren County three weeks ago, Wednesday, Nov. 25, was 1,726, therefore the estimated number of people presumed recovered in the county is 1,659, or about 74.8% of the 2,219 cumulative cases reported as of Wednesday, Dec. 16. The county has an estimated 493 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. 12, is 1,550,198 or about 52.1% 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 22.4% Tuesday, according to Johns Hopkins University. The national rate is 11.1%, and 5% or lower indicates adequate testing.
The total number of outbreaks in long-term care facilities is 239 Wednesday, an increase of three since Tuesday. About 37%, or 1,587, of the state’s total deaths were people in long-term care facilities. The cumulative number of COVID-19 cases in LTC facilities is 8,549 Wednesday, about 4.6% of the state’s total cases.
A total of 31 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 or call the COVID-19 hotline seven days a week from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. at 877-978-6453.