Coronavirus cases appear to be rising in Mississippi again.

There were 121 hospital admissions for COVID-19 in the state during the week ending on Aug. 12, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s a 21% increase from the previous week.

That same week,1,413 Mississippians reported coronavirus-like illnesses, according to the state Health Department. 

The number of COVID-19-like illness visits has been on the rise since June. August is the first time the number has gone over 1,000 since March, and it hasn’t been this high since late January. 

While the state Health Department no longer reports daily coronavirus cases, the agency uses syndromic surveillance, or the number of COVID-19-like illness visits at hospitals and urgent care clinics throughout the state, to track coronavirus prevalence. The chart is typically updated every Friday.

Interim State Epidemiologist Dr. Kathryn Taylor said the increase is likely related to school and colleges starting classes again, in addition to the record high temperatures forcing people indoors more often.

Other nearby Southern states, including Tennessee and Louisiana, are seeing similar increases in recent COVID-19 hospitalization.

Taylor said an increasing number of coronavirus hospitalizations could put further burden on Mississippi’s health care system, which was financially decimated by the pandemic. The state agency is monitoring hospital and ICU capacity.

She said Mississippians should remain vigilant against COVID-19 and protect themselves and their families. 

The state health department’s overall recommendations safeguarding against coronavirus have not changed: Stay up to date on COVID-19 vaccines, practice good hand hygiene, stay home if sick and get tested as needed. People at higher risk of severe outcomes might consider wearing a mask in public spaces, Taylor added.

“Mississippians should continue to be aware that COVID-19 is a concern,” she said. 

COVID-19 vaccinations and testing continue to be available at the county health departments, according to Taylor.

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Devna Bose, a Neshoba County native, covers community health. She is a 2019 graduate of the University of Mississippi, where she studied print journalism and was a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College. Before joining Mississippi Today, Devna reported on education at Chalkbeat Newark and at the Post and Courier’s Education Lab, and on race and social justice at the Charlotte Observer. Her work has appeared in the Hechinger Report, the Star-Ledger and the Associated Press, and she has appeared on WNYC to discuss her reporting. Devna has been awarded for her coverage of K-12 education in the Carolinas.