Health experts continue to warn against the emerging threat that is the Delta variant of COVID-19.
In Mississippi, the number of Delta variant cases saw a sharp increase this week and the total now sits at 78—up from 29 a week ago. This afternoon, State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs and State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers explained that the strain, which is more contagious and can cause more severe illness, is quickly becoming the dominant variant strain in Mississippi.
“It is certainly the predominant strain that we’re seeing from our sequencing data,” Dr. Byers said.
So far, a majority of the cases of the Delta variant are in the Jackson metro area. Dr. Byers stated that these cases have occurred in elementary, middle and high school-age children and some congregate settings such as a camp and a personal care home.
While there have been a few “breakthrough” cases—those who test positive after full vaccination—those individuals have had much milder symptoms or no symptoms at all.
During today’s press conference, the officials once again stated that the way to protect yourself and to prevent ongoing community transmission is to get vaccinated.
“Those who are dying, those new cases and hospitalizations are really among the unvaccinated,” Dr. Dobbs said before giving the following statistics. “90% of our deaths are in unvaccinated [individuals], 96% of our cases are unvaccinated, 95% of our hospitalizations are unvaccinated. The vaccinations are saving lives, they’re saving dollars, and they’re saving people from having to go to the hospital.”
In Mississippi, just 31% of the total population is fully vaccinated—which is last in the nation and far behind the nationwide 46% benchmark. Just 38% of the state’s under-18 population is vaccinated.
Dr. Dobbs and Dr. Byers explained that the MSDH is continuing to assist local doctors across the state to ensure they are able to provide vaccinations to their patients. Additionally, they encouraged anyone who remains on the fence about taking the vaccine to get their questions answered by a medical professional rather than one of the many “Facebook scientists” out there.
Heading into the 4th of July holiday weekend, Dr. Dobbs did encourage everyone to exercise some caution and to celebrate outdoors if possible—especially for those who are unvaccinated.