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COVID-19

Second vaccine appears successful in early trials

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(Photo by governortomwolf - https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/49627709313/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=87820422)

A second COVID-19 vaccine is showing good results in early testing.

Pharmaceutical company Moderna announced Monday that preliminary data shows its vaccine, which is similar to the one Pfizer announced a week ago, appears to be 94.5% effective in preventing COVID-19 infection.

Moderna’s trial included 30,000 participants, half of whom received the vaccine and half who received a placebo.

Both companies are on track to request use of their vaccines on an emergency basis from the Food and Drug Administration. Both require two shots about a month apart, but Moderna’s vaccine appears to be more stable at higher temperatures, which could make it easier to store and distribute.

“That should give us all hope that actually a vaccine is going to be able to stop this pandemic and hopefully get us back to our lives,” Dr. Stephen Hoge, Moderna’s president, told The Associated Press.

Moderna says it can have up to 20 million doses in the U.S. this year and up to billion doses worldwide in 2021.

If the FDA grants emergency use authorization to one or both companies in the next few weeks, vaccines could start to be distributed to high-risk groups in the U.S., such as health care workers and the elderly, as early as next month.

A vaccine probably won’t be available to the general public until spring of next year.

COVID-19

Mayor Flaggs extends Vicksburg’s mask mandate through Jan. 4

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Mayor George Flaggs Jr. during his Nov. 25 news conference. (photo via video screen grab)

Mayor George Flaggs, Jr. has extended Vicksburg’s COVID-19 Civil Emergency Order from 8 a.m. Dec. 2, through 8 a.m. Jan. 4, 2021.

The order continues the mask requirement currently in effect for public buildings and businesses, current social distancing guidelines for public or private social gatherings, and the juvenile curfew from 7:30 p.m. to 7:30 a.m.

A summary of the order is below.

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COVID-19

December begins with record-breaking COVID-19 stats in Mississippi

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Mississippi begins December breaking records for COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

Tuesday, the Mississippi State Department of Health reported the seventh consecutive day of more than 1,000 new COVID-19 cases. The state’s seven-day average of new cases is over 1,400 per day, another record, with 9,867 new cases reported in the last week. The previous seven-day average high of 1,360 was set the last week in July.

More Mississippians are hospitalized with the virus than ever before, with 1,008 patients with confirmed cases of the virus reported Monday.

Nationally, about 168,000 new cases were reported Monday and at least 1,265 more people died of virus. While some progress in lowering case numbers has been seen in the Midwest, cases are surging almost everywhere else in the country.

In Warren County, MSDH reported 15 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday and one new death. The cumulative number of cases in Warren County to date is 1,787, and the county’s death toll is 58. The seven-day average of new cases is at 11.4, continuing the steady rise that began in November.

Statewide, MSDH reported 1,141 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday, bringing the total cumulative confirmed cases in Mississippi to 154,411. The seven-day average of new cases is 1409.6 per day, about 680 cases higher — nearly double — than the seven-day average a month ago, when the state’s numbers were already on the rise. The current averages exceed the numbers seen 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 September, the age group reporting the most cases in Mississippi were 18 to 24 years old. That has shifted to a slightly older group. In November, 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 Tuesday that 27 more Mississippians died of COVID-19 statewide. The cumulative number of deaths in the state is 3,836. The state’s rate of deaths to confirmed cases is about 2.5%. This rate has dropped 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 29 deaths MSDH reported Tuesday, 25 occurred between Nov.24 and Nov. 30 in the following counties:

 

County Deaths reported Tuesday
Adams 1
Amite 1
Hancock 1
Hinds 3
Jackson 4
Jefferson 1
Lee 1
Lincoln 1
Marshall 1
Montgomery 1
Neshoba 3
Pike 1
Pontotoc 2
Rankin 3
Tishomingo 1

Another four COVID-19 related deaths reported Tuesday occurred between Nov. 19 and Nov. 22 and were identified from death certificate reports.

County Deaths identified from death certificate reports
Harrison 1
Jasper 1
Lafayette 1
Warren 1

New cases and deaths were reported to MSDH as of 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 30. 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 rose steadily with the rise of new cases in July and August. On June 6, the number of Mississippians hospitalized with confirmed cases of COVID-19 was at 358. Hospitalizations tripled by late July.

Hospitalizations then steadily dropped through Oct. 3 when they began rising again along with increased cases. The last week in October, hospitalizations began levelling off; however, since Nov. 4 hospitals have seen a steady rise in COVID-19 patients once again.

The number of Mississippians hospitalized for the virus as of 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 27, was 1,115, about 93% of the late July peak of about 1,200. The number includes 1,008 with confirmed cases of COVID-19, a record high, and 107 people with suspected but unconfirmed cases. Of those with confirmed infections, 238 were critically ill and in intensive care units and 135 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 128,746 through Sunday, Nov. 29. It represents about 84% of the cumulative 154,411 cases reported as of Tuesday, Dec. 1.

The number of cases in Warren County three weeks ago, Tuesday, Nov. 10, was 1,625, therefore the estimated number of people presumed recovered in the county is 1,567, or about 87% of the 1,802 cumulative cases reported as of Tuesday, Dec. 1. The county has an estimated 177 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, Nov. 28, is 1,315,279 or about 44.2% 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 21.1% Monday, according to Johns Hopkins University. The national rate is 9.7%, and 5% or lower indicates adequate testing.

The total number of outbreaks in long-term care facilities is 200 Tuesday, an increase of one since Monday. About 37.9%, or 1,453, of the state’s total deaths were people in long-term care facilities. The cumulative number of COVID-19 cases in LTC facilities is 7,724, about 5% of the state’s total cases.

A total of 26 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. 15.

For additional information, visit the MSDH website.

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COVID-19

Mississippi hits a record number of COVID-19 hospitalizations

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(Source: Dr. Thomas Dobbs)

On Sunday, the number of patients in Mississippi hospitals with confirmed COVID-19 infections hit a new record, with 1,008 patients. Adding another 107 people with suspected infections brought the number to 1,115 people.

State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs, who heads the Mississippi State Health Department, called the situation “truly serious” in a tweet Monday.

Dobbs noted in his tweet that he expects a post-holiday acceleration of new cases , which already average more than 1,300 per day in Mississippi. In addition, the normal dip in the number of reported cases over weekends and holidays did not occur over the Thanksgiving weekend. Generally, fewer tests are run Saturdays and Sundays, and fewer clinics report results. Instead, 3,330 new cases were reported to MSDH for Saturday and Sunday, rushing past the 150,000 threshold of cases since March when the first case was confirmed in Mississippi.

Top health officials shared Dobbs’ concern regarding the entirety of the U.S. A record number of travelers headed home for the holidays, ignoring advice not to travel from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other sources. The Transportation Security Administration reports that around 3 million Americans flew the day before and after Thanksgiving. Sunday was the busiest day in airports since March.

“It’s going to get worse over the next several weeks, but the actions that we take in the next several days will determine how bad it is or whether or not we continue to flatten our curve,” U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said on Fox News Sunday.

Flattening the curve of hospitalizations has been the primary goal of many restrictions surrounding the pandemic, but the U.S. is approaching record numbers instead. About 95,000 people are hospitalized across the country, stretching the health care system to a breaking point in some areas.

“It looked like things were starting to improve in our northern plain states, and now with Thanksgiving, we’re worried that all of that will be reversed,” said Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, on CBS News’ Face the Nation.

Birx and others emphasized that people need to take it upon themselves to be restrictive, even in places that do not have specific regulations in place to curb the spread of the virus. In Mississippi, the governor has put half of the state’s 82 counties under mask mandates and other measures, even as leading health officials plead that he impose a mask mandate statewide. The state reported a record number of new cases in November, with more than 33,000, bring the cumulative case count well over 150,000 by the end of the month.

Although Warren County is not on the governor’s list, Vicksburg’s Mayor George Flaggs Jr. and the Warren County Board of Supervisors have imposed mask mandates. Those mandates are likely the reason Warren County has not suffered the huge increases seen elsewhere in the state. The county reported only one death this month, and it is unclear from MSDH data when that death actually happened. Even so, the average for new cases has nearly doubled in November (from about five per day to 9.7).

As a group, health officials are strongly advocating that people protect themselves and others by wearing masks, practicing good hand hygiene and distancing themselves from others including limiting the sizes of groups — the same advice they have given since almost since the start of the crisis.

As Dobbs said in his tweet, “Protect yourselves and your family now. And we all know how.”

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