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Mississippi’s health department has reported an uptick in COVID-19 cases over the last few weeks after a months-long stretch that saw dwindling numbers since late August.
The seven-day average for new cases reached as low as 241 per day on Nov. 29, and was below 400 for nearly all of November. Since then, the average has more than doubled, reaching 624 on Tuesday.
Hospitalizations have also gone up, with the seven-day average increasing 31% since the start of the month.
While far below last winter’s surge, this increase in cases mirrors a similar trend from this time in 2020, when during the same stretch of December the average daily cases shot up nearly 50%.
Only 48% of Mississippians are vaccinated against the virus, the fourth-lowest rate of any state. The number of people getting vaccinated dropped off significantly after the summer and hasn’t picked back up since.
In an interview with Mississippi Today, state epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers said that almost all of Mississippi’s new COVID-19 cases are still from the Delta variant, although the first omicron variant case was identified in the state earlier this month.
Byers also said that MSDH’s safety recommendations haven’t changed for approaching the winter holidays, meaning that people should still wear masks during large indoor gatherings and be extra careful if they’re with vulnerable or unvaccinated family members.