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Doctor regarding COVID-19: Mid-January is going to be a disaster

In the nearly nine months of the COVID-19 pandemic, Vicksburg and Warren County have already experienced one wave of the virus and is in the midst of another. It is for that reason a local doctor is praising the leadership of city officials and urging residents to take this virus seriously.

“This is not the time to take the foot off the brake,” Vicksburg family practitioner Dr. Randy Easterling said at Thursday’s meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen. “This is the time to emphasize wearing your mask, social distance, wash your hands and don’t have social meetings. It’s imperative, important, to wear masks. That’s science. Social distancing is very, very important and wash your hands.

“We’re in the midst of the second wave right now,” he said. “The first wave was this summer. We’re in the second wave right now and it’s going to be worse than the first wave. Buckle your seatbelts because mid-January is going to be a disaster.”

One reason for the potential increasing January numbers, Easterling said, is the holiday parties between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, which he said will help spread the virus.

And social gatherings, he said, need to be avoided.

“If you are in a social gathering outside your nuclear family with 10 people, there’s a 19.6 percent chance that one of those 10 people are shedding the virus. If that number goes up to 20, there’s a 36 percent chance someone’s getting the virus,” Easterling said. “How do you protect yourself against it? Don’t have the thing to begin with.”

Ten to 12 days ago, Easterling said, the U.S. hit the highest number of COVID-related deaths in the country with 3,100. By comparison, he said, 2,977 people died in terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

“For the last two weeks in the United States we have exceeded or been close to 9/11 every day for the last two weeks; that’s 2.2 Americans every two minutes,” he said.

Wednesday in Mississippi, he said, the state had 2,746 new cases with 24 deaths; Thursday’s total was 2,283 with 42 deaths this morning.

Friday’s report from the Mississippi State Department of Health announced 2,327 new cases and 41 deaths.

As for Warren County, state health officials reported 317 new cases in the past two weeks, by far the most of any two-week period in the pandemic, and puts the county at risk of being declared a virus hot spot by the state.

The county has also reported seven virus-related deaths over that same period.

Easterling commended the Board of Mayor and Aldermen for approving the emergency order and the mask mandate.

“I personally have been very comfortable the last 10-11 months with how y’all have managed it,” Easterling told the board. “I think you have been forward-thinking and your actions have saved lives. This you did right.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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