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Mississippi reports another record day of COVID-19 deaths with 85, one in Warren County



Mississippi reported 85 new COVID-19 deaths Tuesday, a new one-day record, breaking the record set just a week ago on Dec. 22 of 79 new deaths. One of those deaths occurred in Warren County bringing the deaths reported in December to 21, the same number as August.

Warren County reported 38 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday. The 14-day total of new cases is 417. The number of cases reported so far in December, 817, is far higher than July’s previous high of 521, with another two days to go. Expect to see close to 900 cases this month.

Last week, Gov. Tate Reeves added Warren County to his list of hot spot counties that now include all but four of Mississippi’s 82 counties — Claiborne, Issaquena, Sharkey and Tunica — three of which neighbor Warren.

The state has now seen 912 deaths in December, making it the deadliest month for the virus in 2020. COVID-19 is one of the state’s leading causes of death at this time, according to State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs.

Saturday was the first time in more than a month since Mississippi reported fewer than 1,000 new cases in one day. The drop in new cases is likely due to holiday closures and is probably an undercount. Fifteen of the 29 days in December have seen more than 2,000 cases per day.

With nearly 57,000 new cases reported so far in December, the state will see around 60,000 cases by the end of the month. Cases to date in December obliterate the previous monthly high of around 33,000 set in November and the July surge of 31,500 cases.

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 parties or any gatherings that include people not in their immediate families.

The state’s seven-day average of new cases is about 1,800 per day, with 12,341 new cases reported in the last week. The highest seven-day average in the last surge was around 1,360 for the week ending July 30.

The huge number of cases means a corresponding rise in the number of hospitalizations in the state. Hospitalizations surpass the July high of around 1,250 by 50 to 125 patients. On Christmas Eve, Mississippi saw 180 new admissions for COVID-19, a record high. 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.

Mississippi’s health care system is overwhelmed, with another surge expected after the Christmas and New Year holidays. “It’s bad, and it’s getting worse,” Dobbs said.

Nationally, the cumulative cases in the U.S. have soared to more than 19.3 million, with some sources putting the figure as high as 19.8 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 335,141.

At least 1,899 people died of the virus Sunday in the U.S., and at least 189,044 new cases were reported. The drop in new cases, about 13%, is likely because of holiday closures. The rate of deaths has dropped 10% in the past two weeks; however, the number of people hospitalized across the nation is about 121,200, an increase of 10%.

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, for example, added more than 300,000 cases for the seven days ending Dec. 22.

The rate of new infections in the Midwest and Mountain States continue to show improvement, while the South is emerging as one of the nation’s most affected regions. Tennessee is seeing more cases per capita than any other state, and Alabama is setting records for new cases and deaths. Mississippi is among several states where new deaths are on the rise.

Local and statewide COVID-19 statistics for Tuesday, Dec. 29

In Warren County, MSDH reported 38 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday and one new death. The cumulative number of cases in Warren County to date is 2,604, and the county’s death toll is 78. The seven-day average of new cases in the county 36.2 per day, more than seven times higher than in early November when the average was about five cases per day, and more than three times higher than the beginning of December.

Statewide, MSDH reported 1,943 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday, bringing the total cumulative confirmed cases in Mississippi to 210,032. The seven-day average of new cases is 1,733 per day, about 62% higher than the seven-day average a month ago, when the state’s numbers were already on the rise. The current averages far outstrip the numbers seen at the height of the last surge in July.

At the beginning of the crises, the age group with the most COVID-19 cases were those over 65. Now, most new cases are seen in younger people who are more likely to survive the virus than those 65 and older. In December, 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 85 more Mississippians died Tuesday of COVID-19 statewide, a one-day record of deaths in the state. The previous record of 79 was set Dec. 22. The cumulative number of deaths in the state is 4,719. The state’s rate of deaths to confirmed cases is about 2.3%. This rate drops when the number of cases is going up faster than the number of deaths.

Deaths are a lagging indicator. During last summer’s surge, for example, July broke records for new cases. In August, deaths spiked. The current surge began in Mississippi in late October, and the state is seeing record deaths in December. In August, the highest number of one-day deaths in Mississippi was 67 reported Aug. 25. November and December case numbers have exceeded cases reported in July, and December’s death toll has exceeded August’s.

Of the 85 deaths MSDH reported Tuesday, 81 occurred between Dec. 15 and Dec. 28 in the following counties:

County Deaths reported Tuesday
Adams 1
Amite 1
Benton 1
Chickasaw 1
Claiborne 1
Copiah 2
Forrest 1
Franklin 1
Grenada 1
Hancock 1
Harrison 11
Hinds 10
Holmes 1
Itawamba 1
Jackson 3
Jefferson Davis 1
Lamar 1
Lauderdale 3
Lee 3
Leflore 2
Lincoln 3
Lowndes 1
Madison 2
Marion 2
Monroe 3
Oktibbeha 2
Panola 1
Pike 3
Prentiss 1
Rankin 2
Scott 2
Simpson 1
Smith 1
Tallahatchie 1
Union 5
Warren 1
Washington 2
Winston 1

An additional four COVID-19 related deaths occurred Dec. 21 and were identified from death certificate reports.

County Deaths identified from death certificate reports
Covington 1
Harrison 1
Jefferson Davis 1
Newton 1

New cases and deaths were reported to MSDH as of 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 28. 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. 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. Sunday, Dec. 27, was 1,305. The number includes 1,262 with confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 43 people with suspected but unconfirmed cases. Of those with confirmed infections, 321 were critically ill and in intensive care units and 193 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 79.6% of the cumulative 210,032 cases reported as of Tuesday, Dec. 29.

The number of cumulative cases in Warren County three weeks ago, Tuesday, Dec. 8, was 1,975, therefore the estimated number of people presumed recovered in the county is 1,897, or about 72.8% of the 2,604 cumulative cases reported as of Tuesday, Dec. 29. The county has an estimated 629 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 Tuesday, 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 is 10.6%, and 5% or lower indicates adequate testing.

The total number of outbreaks in long-term care facilities is 244 Tuesday, an increase of nine since Monday. About 35.7%, or 1,686, of the state’s total deaths were people in long-term care facilities. The cumulative number of COVID-19 cases in LTC facilities was 9,195 Tuesday, about 4.4% 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 it 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. 13.

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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