While Mississippi is no longer last in its vaccination rate against COVID-19, the state is now leading the nation in COVID-19 deaths per capita.
Mississippi surpassed New Jersey in COVID deaths per 100,000 residents this week, after the state held the title for 15 months. Mississippi taking the top spot was the direct result of a disastrous month that saw the state record more than 20% of its total infections and pushed its healthcare system to the brink of collapse.
The state’s caseload and hospitalization rates are still quite high, but have decreased significantly from the peaks seen in August. Over the past two weeks, new infections have decreased by 32% and hospitalizations have decreased by 23%. These trends have health experts in the state cautiously optimistic about the future of the pandemic in Mississippi.
“It certainly does look like our trends are coming down, but we’re still at very high levels of cases and we anticipate that we’re going to continue with those five numbers, at least for a while,” State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers said.
Mississippi is also leading the nation in the use of monoclonal antibody treatments. State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said Thursday that the majority of monoclonal antibody treatments have been utilized in the southeast and that Mississippi leads those states in treatments given per capita.
“I want to remind everyone that the best way to prevent COVID is to get vaccinated,” Dobbs said during a press conference on Thursday. “If folks get COVID, we know that the monoclonal antibody treatments are very effective at preventing hospitalization and can also save your life.”
Up until this week, states had no cap on the amount of monoclonal antibodies they could request from the federal government, but an allocation system has now been implemented. While MSDH has had to move some of their supply around to different providers, Dobbs said that Mississippi is receiving enough to ensure that any Mississippian who seeks out monoclonal treatment can get it.
Dobbs also discussed the risks COVID poses to pregnant people. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 15 pregnant patients have died from the virus, eight of them since the beginning of August. All were not fully vaccinated, with only one of them having received one dose. All were between the ages of 23-40. Additionally, 72 pregnant patients experienced stillbirths due to COVID-related complications, all after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
“So to protect the moms and also protect our babies, we need to prevent COVID infection,” Dobbs said.
Dobbs reiterated that vaccination is safe for pregnant patients at any stage of their pregnancy, as is monoclonal antibody treatment if they become infected.