A sign outside Whitfield Hall, a concert auditorium, reminding Mississippi University for Women students to take precautions against COVID-19. Credit: Molly Minta/Mississippi Today

The Mississippi Department of Health reported zero new COVID-19 deaths on Thursday, making Nov. 3 the first day since June 30 without a pandemic-related death in Mississippi. 

Though it’s just a single-day report, the announcement undoubtedly came as a relief to many living in the state with the highest COVID-19 death rate in the nation, which has lost one out of every 300 residents to the virus. In total, 10,134 Mississippians have died from COVID-19

If Mississippi were a country, it would have the third highest per capita death rate in the world, following only Peru and Bosnia.

The rate is even higher in some of Mississippi’s hardest-hit and least vaccinated counties, such as Neshoba County, which at one death per 141 residents has the highest death rate of any county in the nation.

READ MORE: Gov. Tate Reeves says he and attorney general will sue over Biden vaccine mandate

Mississippi’s 7-day average for new infections (285) has dropped by 92% since the mid-August peak (3,586) of the Delta variant surge that saw the near-collapse of the state’s hospital system as they were overwhelmed by mostly unvaccinated patients. The rate of hospitalizations and deaths has followed this sharp downward trend. 

The biggest culprit for the incredible levels of sickness and death from COVID-19 that Mississippians have experienced is the state’s low vaccination rate, which at 46% is the fifth-lowest in the nation. 

READ MORE: Wicker, Hyde-Smith join other Mississippi Republicans in opposing Biden vaccine mandate

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Will Stribling covers healthcare and breaking news for Mississippi Today.