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.