During a press briefing this afternoon, Governor Tate Reeves provided the latest update on the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine in Mississippi.
In an effort to address racial disparities, the Biden Administration has entered into a pharmacy partnership to ship additional doses of the vaccine to communities of color. In Mississippi, Walmart will be the chosen pharmacy. According to State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs, 30 Walmart stores, which have not yet been finalized, will receive a shared total of around 6,200 doses. The governor was skeptical of the federal government’s plan—set to begin next week— due to the accessibility of stores in Mississippi.
“I am hopeful that they are correct in their effort, but I will tell you that I am somewhat concerned about those efforts because while it’s probably true in Washington D.C. or in New York City that you can walk a block in either direction and run into a Walgreens or run into a CVS or a Walmart…but in Mississippi, there aren’t a lot of Walmarts in Issaquena County and there aren’t a lot of Walmarts in very rural areas.”
In all, the state’s allocation of doses is expected to increase to around 45,000 doses next week. In addition to the state-run sites, of which there are currently 21, private clinics and hospitals will receive a higher number of doses with the increase in supply. 30,000 first dose appointments were announced this morning and filled up by noon.
Despite the slight increase, Governor Reeves said it remains to be seen when additional groups will become eligible to receive the vaccine. Currently, those over the age of 65 and those with underlying health conditions are eligible. In the past, the governor has said that teachers and first responders will be next in line when the time comes.
The state has reached another milestone with over 250,000 doses administered across the state.
Earlier today, the Department of Health reported 825 new cases of COVID-19 and 76 additional deaths. The state’s total number of cases rises to 276,531 and 6,132 Mississippians have now passed away from the virus. With vaccine demand far outweighing supply, Dr. Dobbs reiterated the importance of continuing to practicing social distancing, wearing your mask and avoiding large gatherings. On a positive note, overall hospitalizations and patients in the ICU are continuing to decline.
The mask mandate that affects 75 of the state’s 82 counties is set to expire tomorrow, but the governor mentioned that it will likely be extended through the end of the month.
Watch the full briefing below: