Vice President Mike Pence received the first of two doses of the Pfizer vaccine Thursday in a televised event from the White House. The administration said the event was intended to “promote the safety and efficacy of the vaccine and build confidence among the American people.”
Second lady Karen Pence also received the vaccine as well as Surgeon General Jerome Adams.
A second vaccine from Moderna is expected to receive the go-ahead from the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use Friday, making an additional 5.9 million doses of vaccine available almost immediately. An FDA panel of independent experts gave their approval Wednesday, putting the second COVID-19 vaccine that much closer to getting final emergency approval.
The state’s health care officials emphasize that Mississippians need to continue taking precautions to limit the spread of the virus. Of particular importance now is avoiding holiday parties and large social gatherings with people outside of your immediate family or household. That includes sporting events, in-person church services, weddings and funerals. In addition, wearing a mask in public, keeping 6 feet of social distance and practicing good hand hygiene continue to be essential.
The virus: locally, state and nationwide
Warren County reported 26 new cases Friday. The 14-day total of new cases is 374, putting the county well into Gov. Tate Reeves hot spot definition that brings with it the probability of increased COVID-19 restrictions. The number of cases reported so far in December, 482, is more than double the cases reported last month.
Warren has also reported another death Friday, the 11th death in December. The number stands in stark contrast with the one death reported all of last month.
It has been more than three weeks since Mississippi has seen fewer than 1,000 new cases reported in one day. The state reported 2,507 new cases Friday. Eleven of the first 18 days in December have seen more than 2,000 cases per day.
With more than 37,000 new cases reported so far in December, the state will see nearly 64,000 cases by the end of the month if the current trend continues. That number will 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 to go even higher in January after the Christmas and New Year holidays and are 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 15,129 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 have now surpassed the July high of around 1,250, and hospitals across Mississippi are 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.
Nationally, the cumulative cases in the U.S. have soared to more than 17.2 million, with more than 1 million cases reported just in the last five days. 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 numbers nearly 311,000.
At least 3,293 people died of the virus Thursday in the U.S., and at least 238,189 new cases were reported. As expected, the rate of deaths is increasing steeply after a surge in new cases. Deaths have increased 39% in the past two weeks, while cases have gone up about 18%. The number of people hospitalized across the nation now exceeds 114,000.
Local and statewide COVID-19 statistics for Friday, Dec. 18
In Warren County, MSDH reported 26 new COVID-19 cases Friday and one new death. The cumulative number of cases in Warren County to date is 2,239, and the county’s death toll is 68. The seven-day average of new cases in the county 28.4 per day, nearly six times higher than in early November when the average was about five cases per day.
Statewide, MSDH reported 2,507 new COVID-19 cases Friday, bringing the total cumulative confirmed cases in Mississippi to 190,411. The seven-day average of new cases is 2,161 per day, nearly 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 34 more Mississippians died Friday of COVID-19 statewide. The cumulative number of deaths in the state is 4,354. 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. 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 34 deaths MSDH reported Friday, 14 occurred between Dec. 11 and Dec. 16 in the following counties:
|County||Deaths reported Friday|
An additional 20 COVID-19 related deaths occurred between Nov. 13 and Dec. 14 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. Thursday, Dec. 17. 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. Wednesday, Dec. 16, was 1,293. The number includes 1,219 with confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 74 people with suspected but unconfirmed cases. Of those with confirmed infections, 315 were critically ill and in intensive care units and 193 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 78% of the cumulative 190,411 cases reported as of Friday, Dec. 18.
The number of cumulative cases in Warren County three weeks ago, Friday, Nov. 27, was 1,753, therefore the estimated number of people presumed recovered in the county is 1,685, or about 74.6% of the 2,269 cumulative cases reported as of Friday, Dec. 18. The county has an estimated 516 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 21.9% Thursday, according to Johns Hopkins University. The national rate is 11.4%, and 5% or lower indicates adequate testing.
The total number of outbreaks in long-term care facilities is 235 Friday, a decrease of one since Thursday. About 36.9%, or 1,607, of the state’s total deaths were people in long-term care facilities. The cumulative number of COVID-19 cases in LTC facilities is 8,776 Friday, 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 Dec. 6.
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.