Warren County now considered COVID-19 hotspot amid case surge

Published 5:00 pm Wednesday, December 29, 2021

COVID-19 cases are surging in Mississippi.

“More than 2,000 new cases are being reported per day and are climbing,” Mississippi Department of Health Chief Medical Officer and local physician Dr. Dan Edney said.

The numbers are also impacting Warren County.

Not only are clinics experiencing a sharp increase in testing. Edney said, but the number of positive cases is also escalating.

So much so, Warren County is considered by the Mississippi State Department of Health as a hotspot, he said.

The number of children being diagnosed with COVID is also growing.

Local pediatrician Dr. Geri Weiland said, of the 80 patients she saw on Monday and Tuesday of this week, 13 were diagnosed with COVID. This is a 15-percent increase as of about a week ago, Weiland said.

“We are almost back to square one,” she said.

This is because the Omicron variant is 50 percent more contagious than any other form of COVID-19, she explained.

“Thankfully, it is less virulent,” Edney said.

But even so, during an MSDH press conference Wednesday, state epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers said, “Be prepared. A lot of cases translate to a lot of hospitalizations for certain vulnerable individuals, and it translates to deaths.”

The increase in hospitalizations includes children. Byers said Mississippi as a whole has more children in the hospital and ICU than before the start of the pandemic.

Therefore, vaccines and boosters are critical, MSDH Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said during the press conference, because people who are vaccinated and who have had a booster are protected from the most severe cases of the virus.

Currently in Mississippi, Edney said only 48 percent of the total population has been vaccinated with 415,000 boosted, compared to the 62 percent who are fully vaccinated nationwide. Mississippi also has a low rate of vaccination in children.

Byers said only about 4 percent of 5- to 11-year-olds have been vaccinated.

In 12- to 17-year-olds, only 35 to 40 percent are vaccinated.

“We are still lagging behind. We have got to do better,” Byers said.

Because of the increase in COVID cases due to the Omicron variant, MSDH senior deputy and director of health protection Jim Craig said the state is working to expand testing sites. This week, more sites have been added, and their locations can be found on the MSDH’s website.

In addition to the need for more test sites, Mississippi is also in need of more therapeutics such as monoclonal antibodies. Edney said Mississippi is experiencing a shortage of drugs.

“These medications are in very short supply and will be used only in the most high-risk patients. They will not be available in pharmacies but will be dispensed at MSDH-approved COVID treatment sites,” he said.

“We have always said vaccines are plan A and monoclonals are a backup, so get your vaccine,” Dobbs said.

This is especially true since some of the therapies do not help against the Omicron variant. However, in a couple of weeks, Dobbs said, Mississippi will be receiving more treatments that are “highly effective” against Omicron.

“But we don’t have them right now, and so it is incumbent upon every person to take the personal responsibility to prevent transmission to themselves and family while we have this transmission going on. We know how to impede the transmission of the coronavirus,” he said, which includes vaccines, boosters, masking and quarantining.

This week the Centers for Disease Control updated the measures of protection from the virus. The change has occurred after learning the majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs early in the course of illness, generally in the 1-2 days prior to the onset of symptoms and the 2 to 3 days after.

Dobbs said MSDH will follow the guidelines from the CDC. For information on the updates, visit www.msdh.ms.gov.

About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

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