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COVID-19 starts 2021 with a wallop



COVID-19 began with a wallop in 2021. The Mississippi Department of health reported 2,575 new cases Jan. 1 along with 29 deaths. Warren County reported 30 new cases and its first death of 2021.

December ended as the deadliest month of 2020 for COVID-19 in Mississippi and Warren County. The final tally of December cases was 62,541 in Mississippi and 956 in Warren County. Statewide cases nearly doubled the previous high of 33,110 set in November.

Deaths came uncomfortably close to the 1,000 predicted earlier in the month with 980 statewide. The county reported 21 deaths in December, the equivalent of those reported in August, tying them as the deadliest months of the year for Warren County.

Warren County’s 14-day total of new cases is 504 with a daily average of 36 cases. The seven-day average is nearing 45 a day, with 313 cases reported in the past seven days.

The county is on the governor’s list of hot spots that include all but four of Mississippi’s 82 counties — Claiborne, Issaquena, Sharkey and Tunica — three of which neighbor Warren.

COVID-19 is one of the state’s leading causes of death at this time, according to State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs. To see other causes of death in the state, including from flu and pneumonia, click here.

The state’s seven-day average of new cases is about 2,030 per day, with 14,208 new cases reported in the last week.

The huge number of cases means a corresponding rise in the number of hospitalizations in the state. Hospitalizations hit more than 1,450 patients Wednesday. Hospitals across the state — including Merit Health River Region in Vicksburg — are reporting that no ICU beds are available for any seriously ill or injured person, not just COVID-19 patients.

State health officials expect cases, hospitalizations and deaths to go even higher in January after the Christmas and New Year holidays and are strongly urging Mississippians not to hold or attend parties or any gatherings that include people not in their immediate families.

“It’s bad, and it’s getting worse,” Dobbs said last week.

Nationally, the cumulative cases in the U.S. have soared to more than 20.1 million, with some sources putting the figure as high as 20.5 million. Numbers of new infections, hospitalizations and deaths continue to rise although the rate of new cases seems to be slowing slightly.

The number of people who have died in the U.S. since the beginning of the crisis is about 347,248 on New Year’s Eve.

At least 3,462 people died of the virus Thursday in the U.S., and at least 231,045 new cases were reported. Holiday closures with limited testing and uneven reporting likely contributed to the drop in new cases in the last 14 days, about 12%, is likely because of holiday closures. The rate of deaths has dropped 8% in the past two weeks; however, the number of people hospitalized across the nation continues to rise. About 125,379 people were in the hospital Dec. 31 for COVID-19, an increase of 10% in the past two weeks.

For the moment, the explosive growth in new cases seems to be slowing, but some states are still seeing record numbers of new cases. California is setting records daily, and the South has emerged as a new epicenter.

The rate of new infections in the Midwest and Mountain States continue to show improvement from the fall.

Health officials from coast to coast are bracing for yet another spike in cases, hospitalizations and deaths after the year-end holidays.

About 2.8 million Americans have received the first dose of one of two COVID-19 vaccines, far short of the national goal of 20 million inoculated by the end of December. For information about vaccines and vaccine distribution in Mississippi, please visit the MSDH website.

Local and statewide COVID-19 statistics for Friday, Jan 1

In Warren County, MSDH reported 30 new COVID-19 cases Friday and one new death. The cumulative number of cases in Warren County to date is 2,773, and the county’s death toll is 79. The seven-day average of new cases in the county 44.7 per day, nearly four times higher than a month ago.

Statewide, MSDH reported 2,575 new COVID-19 cases Friday, bringing the total cumulative confirmed cases in Mississippi to 218,386. The seven-day average of new cases is 2,029 per day, 44% higher than the seven-day average a month ago. In January, the age group reporting the most cases in Mississippi are from 25 to 39 years old followed by those 50 to 64 years old.

MSDH reported that 29 more Mississippians died Friday of COVID-19 statewide. The cumulative number of deaths in the state is 4,816. The state’s rate of deaths to confirmed cases is about 2.2%. This rate drops when the number of cases is going up faster than the number of deaths.

Deaths are a lagging indicator. The current surge began in Mississippi in late October, and the state saw record deaths in December, with 85 reported Dec. 29. November and December case numbers exceeded cases reported in July at the peak of last summer’s surge. December’s death toll exceeded August’s by 167.

Of the 29 deaths MSDH reported Friday, 11 occurred between Dec. 19 and Dec. 31 in the following counties:

County Deaths MSDH reported Friday
Forrest 1
Hinds 2
Jackson 1
Leake 5
Newton 1
Oktibbeha 2
Panola 1
Rankin 1
Simpson 1
Tallahatchie 1
Warren 1
Winston 1

An additional 18 COVID-19 related deaths occurred between Nov. 17 and Dec. 28 and were identified from death certificate reports.

County Deaths identified from death certificate reports
Hinds 5
Lafayette 1
Leake 1
Neshoba 1
Rankin 2
Yalobusha 1

New cases and deaths were reported to MSDH as of 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 31. MSDH usually reports statistics on the COVID-19 coronavirus each day based on the previous day’s testing and death reports.

The primary metric concerning state health officials are the numbers of people hospitalized, and that number has risen steadily since Nov. 4, 2020. COVID-19 hospitalizations threaten the state’s health care system as never before.

The number of Mississippians hospitalized for the virus as of 6 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 30, was 1,456. The number includes 1,383 with confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 73 people with suspected but unconfirmed cases. Of those with confirmed infections, 346 were critically ill and in intensive care units and 219 were on ventilators.

Source: MSDH

MSDH has estimated the number of people who can be presumed recovered from COVID-19 in Mississippi. That number is 167,263 through Sunday, Dec. 27. It represents about 76.6% of the cumulative 218,386 cases reported as of Friday, Jan. 1.

The number of cumulative cases in Warren County three weeks ago, Friday, Dec. 11, was 2,070, therefore the estimated number of people presumed recovered in the county is 1,991, or about 72% of the 2,773 cumulative cases reported as of Friday, Jan. 1. The county has an estimated 703 active cases.

These estimates are based on MSDH’s guidelines for calculating estimated recoveries when hospitalizations are not known, using the number of cases 21 days ago, less known outcomes (deaths).

The total number of Mississippians tested for COVID-19 (PCR and antigen tests identifying current infections) as of Friday, Dec. 19, is 1,669,558 or about 56.1% of the state’s 2.976 million residents. MSDH reports statewide test results about once a week. Without daily updated numbers of tests, it is impossible to accurately calculate Mississippi’s positivity rate (positive results to tests, seven-day average); however, the estimated rate was 20.1% Sunday, according to Johns Hopkins University. The national rate was 11.7% Thursday, and 5% or lower indicates adequate testing.

The total number of outbreaks in long-term care facilities is 236 Friday, unchanged since Thursday. About 35.7%, or 1,719, of the state’s total deaths were people in long-term care facilities. The cumulative number of COVID-19 cases in LTC facilities is 9,362 Friday, about 4.3% of the state’s total cases.

A total of 37 deaths in Warren County were residents of LTC facilities.

MSDH is no longer reporting outbreaks in individual long-term care facilities in Mississippi and has replaced that information with access to a database from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. You can access and search the data by provider here. The latest data available is for the week ending Dec. 20.

For additional information, visit the MSDH website or call the COVID-19 hotline seven days a week from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. at 877-978-6453.

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