State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs made a grim prediction on Thursday: January will likely be Mississippi’s worst month for COVID-19 morbidity of the pandemic.

“Total all-cause mortality rising quickly,” Dobbs tweeted on Thursday. “January will likely be the worst month for COVID deaths by far. Until we get good vaccination penetration and better control over the pandemic please continue to wear a mask in public and avoid social gatherings.”

On Thursday, Mississippi reported 41 new deaths, bringing January’s total COVID-related deaths to 505. January’s deaths through the first 14 days of the month make up 10% of the state’s total COVID deaths of the pandemic. Since March, when the state’s first case was confirmed, 5,356 deaths have been accounted to the virus.

Across the nation, 387,103 have died from COVID-related illnesses, according to the The COVID Tracking Project.

READ MORE: See all of Mississippi’s COVID-19 data here.

The Mississippi State Department of Health also reported a single-day record for deaths, 98, on Tuesday. Mississippians 65 and over, who this week became eligible to receive a vaccine before the state’s available vaccine appointments filled up, continue to represent the vast majority of COVID-19 deaths, accounting for 77% of them since the start of the pandemic.

READ MORE: State Health Department announces all of its vaccine appointments are booked.

As the country expands its vaccination rollout, Mississippi’s COVID-19 numbers have begun to steady after recently setting new records.

The seven-day rolling average for cases reached a new high on Jan. 10 of 2,431, but has since dropped back to around 2,000, where it’s remained since mid-December. 

Nationally, Mississippi now ranks 13th in recent cases per capita, according to the Harvard Global Health Institute. As of Sunday, every state was in the “red zone” (recording over 25 daily new cases per 100,000 people). 

Total hospitalizations, a lagging indicator, reached a new high on the rolling average on Jan. 8 at 1,474, and has remained around 1,400 since the new year. Hospitalizations have steadily increased for about three months now since mid-October. The number of COVID patients in the ICU also reached a new high, 360, on Jan. 12.

The health department reports that 198,888 people are presumed recovered as of Jan. 10.

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Adam Ganucheau, as Mississippi Today's editor-in-chief, oversees the newsroom and works with the editorial team to fulfill our mission of producing high-quality journalism in the public interest. Adam has covered politics and state government for Mississippi Today since February 2016. A native of Hazlehurst, Adam has worked as a staff reporter for, The Birmingham News and The Clarion-Ledger and his work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post and Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Adam earned his bachelor’s in journalism from the University of Mississippi.

Alex Rozier, from New York City, is Mississippi Today’s data and environment reporter. His work has appeared in the Boston Globe, Open Secrets, and on In 2019, Alex was a grantee through the Pulitzer Center’s Connected Coastlines program, which supported his coverage around the impact of climate change on Mississippi fisheries.