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Dr. Dobbs warns “more tragedy on the way” amid ongoing surge

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In a day filled with COVID-19 response updates from the governor’s office and the University of Mississippi Medical Center, the Mississippi State Department of Health also held a news conference to share its latest data as well as announce its request for federal assistance.

Mississippi’s daily average of new cases has ballooned up to over 2,700—the highest at any point of the pandemic—hospitalizations are continuing to climb above 1,400 and 61 deaths have been reported over the past two days.

“Personally, I feel I’m an air traffic controller and every day, I’m watching two airliners collide. I am constantly warning, we’re constantly warning, to change course and we never do. It’s really distressing to see what’s going on and know that almost all of these deaths are preventable,” State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said.

It remains that 97% of new cases, 89% of hospitalizations and 83% of deaths are among the unvaccinated. While the number of shots being administered is rising, Dr. Dobbs went on to say that this surge could have been avoided if the state’s vaccination rate was higher. It remains the second-lowest in the country at just over 35%.

The state’s leading health expert also explained that most of the individuals being admitted to the hospital are under 50 and the leading age group for mortality is now 50-64.

“That’s because the vast majority of our 65+ folks have been immunized, and only about half of those 50-64 have been. So, we’ve got a lot more tragedy on the way,” he said.

State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers explained that, recently, two unvaccinated pregnant women in Mississippi died from COVID-19. He then reiterated that the vaccine is “strongly recommended” for pregnant women and that there have been no links between the shot and infertility or an increase in miscarriages.

It was announced this afternoon by Governor Tate Reeves and the University of Mississippi Medical Center that UMMC will be re-opening its 50-bed MED-1 facility in the parking garage of its Jackson location to help create additional bed space.

Director of Health Protection Jim Craig detailed that a federal disaster medical team will be sent in to assist with staffing at the facility. These are similar to the teams that assisted the state following Hurricane Katrina. The new space should be operational by Friday. Beds are also being made available at both the VA facility in Jackson and on the Coast.

Additionally, ten teams have been requested to assist with the administration of the monoclonal anti-bodies treatment, which reduces the chance of hospitalizations for COVID patients.

Earlier today, Governor Reeves’ post outlined the state’s latest response effort amid this latest surge. In the social media post, he alluded to the possibility of extending the ‘State of Emergency’ order which is set to expire Sunday.

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