Following in the footsteps of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Mississippi state health officials recommended on Wednesday that all residents, regardless of vaccination status, wear face masks indoors to combat the rapidly spreading COVID-19 delta variant.
New CDC guidelines:Encourage masks to be worn in areas with high COVID-19 transmission
The Department of Health’s recommendations come as the state reported 1,875 COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, a daily number of cases not seen in the state since Jan. 27. Between July 21 and 27, the ministry recorded 9,290 new COVID-19 cases.
“We got ourselves into this mess again,” said State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs during a press conference Wednesday.
While COVID-19 deaths have not increased significantly, Dobbs expected it to. On Tuesday, the department announced the coronavirus-related death of a Mississippi teenager who had a common underlying disease. It marks the fourth COVID-19-related death of a resident under the age of 18 since the virus entered the state last March.
“We always get: ‘What diseases do you have?’ And my heart hurts a little, “said Dobbs.” Illnesses are very common. It could be asthma. It could be eczema. It could be overweight. Let’s try to protect everyone. Let’s not be complacent just because we think we don’t have any medical conditions that don’t. “To us.”
Mississippi’s low vaccination rate and unmasked mass gatherings were the breeding ground for the highly transmissible Delta variant, which now accounts for 90% of new coronavirus cases in the state, according to health officials. It has skyrocketed hospital admissions and the number of people in intensive care units, placing a heavy burden on the Mississippi health system.
As of Wednesday, 726 people with confirmed COVID-19 infections were in hospitals in Mississippi, including 215 in intensive care units and 94 on ventilators. On Tuesday evening, 28 intensive care units nationwide were full, said Jim Craig, senior deputy and director of health protection, during the press conference.
Tracking Coronavirus in MS: 1,875 new cases, 6 deaths reported on Wednesday
“It’s as bad as we saw it in January,” he said, adding that rising COVID-19 hospital admissions could mean delayed care for people coming to the emergency room with medical emergencies like strokes and heart attacks.
To counter the surge in hospital admissions and people in intensive care units nationwide, Craig announced Thursday that Mississippi hospitals will follow a care plan that will optimize the number of patients in hospitals as clinical needs increase. This will stay in place until August 15, he said.
In addition, starting August 1, elective procedures that require overnight hospitalization will be postponed to August 15 to increase resource availability during the COVID-19 surge.
“It’s going to be a challenge like we’ve never seen before,” said Dobbs. “When you’re in a healthcare system, be patient. You could be in the emergency room twice as long as you are used to.
Outbreaks from long-term care facilities have increased as the number of cases has increased. State epidemiologist Paul Byers said Wednesday the state has had over 100 outbreaks, mostly among staff. Nursing homes account for 72 of the total reported. Across Mississippi, fewer than 50% of nursing home healthcare workers have been vaccinated against the coronavirus, he said.
Byers said he anticipates long-term care outbreaks to continue to increase.
With the Delta variant threatening Mississippi, there has been a spike in COVID-19 tests and vaccinations in the past two weeks. Craig said the availability of testing has increased in Hinds and Rankin counties, where cases have increased.
Delta variant jump:Children who pay the price when cases multiply as school gets closer
MSDH on schools and masking
A day after the CDC released new guidelines suggesting requiring masks and face covers for all students, teachers, and staff in K-12 schools, Byers said the state health department will likely follow the CDC’s recommendations.
Mississippi health officials didn’t say when they would announce an update to the department’s guidelines.
The change in posture comes a little less than two weeks after the state agency issued new guidelines for K-12 schools that included regular screening of asymptomatic unvaccinated individuals and the wearing of masks for unvaccinated staff and students.
MS schools:Focus on personal learning this fall as COVID-19 cases rise
Dobbs said on July 20 the health department has no intention of placing vaccination orders for state colleges.
We will see cases in students and we will see cases in teachers, ”said Dobbs. “And I think it is up to all of us to implement the full recommendations for preventing transmission in schools.”
Dobbs said at least one school district has already returned to face-to-face tuition for the 2021-22 school year and cases have already risen among students and staff.
He reiterated the need for masks in schools and urged districts to follow the upcoming revised guidelines as more districts begin the school year in the coming weeks.
“We think everyone should have masks indoors. That is our guide and we will certainly encourage that, ”said Dobbs. “Right now, with the highly contagious delta circulation and the vast majority of children not being immune, it’s a perfect recipe for transmission in schools.”
Additional guidelines from the Mississippi Department of Health include:
- Regardless of getting a full vaccination, a person who tests positive for the coronavirus should be isolated for 10 days from the onset of symptoms, or from the date of the test if they have no symptoms.
- If a person is exposed to a COVID-19 positive person, they should be tested 3-5 days after exposure. If the person is not vaccinated, they should be quarantined for 10 days.
- People aged 65 and over and people with chronic illnesses should avoid all mass gatherings, regardless of vaccination status.
Educators say:Mississippi Association of Educators Demands National Mask Requirements in Schools
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