Tuesday, December 8, 2020
More than 4,000 Mississippians are confirmed to have died from complications of COVID-19 in the pandemic so far, a grim milestone that public-health leadership has warned is unlikely to be the last before the end of the crisis. COVID-19 deaths in Mississippi are continuing to rise after weeks of intensifying cases and hospitalizations.
Yesterday, the Mississippi State Department of Health reported 56 deaths, 42 from immediate fatalities and the rest identified from deaths in the last month. Deaths have been on a steady incline since lows in October, now upwards of 15 a day on average. Deaths are the longest lagging indicator of the depth of the crisis. But State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs warned the impact may arrive before the end of the year.
“What would I do to save 1,000 lives?” Dobbs asked on Twitter on Dec. 5. “We may see an additional 1,000 deaths before the start of 2021. All preventable. I would do a lot. We collectively can save thousands of Mississippians throughout this rest of the pandemic. Yesterday 37 people died, many in their 30's-50's.”
The true cost of Mississippi’s share of the pandemic in human lives is far above the confirmed numbers, as evidenced by the state health officer’s late November testimony showing more than 5,090 excess deaths in the year of 2020. Public-health leadership has repeatedly explained that COVID-19 is the cause of these excess fatalities.
“We normally have X deaths—now we have X plus another number of deaths, and it’s going to be because of coronavirus. There is absolutely no way to explain around it,” Dobbs said in September.
Mississippi’s unprecedented average of COVID-19 cases is 1,931, now higher than any single day in the pandemic prior to December save one. The Mississippi State Department of Health announced 1,732 cases today.
“The Thanksgiving surge is here,” the state health officer warned.
The United Kingdom started administering the first post-trial shots of the COVID-19 vaccine this week. Pending FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine, Mississippi may have up to 25,000 doses of the shot for frontline health-care employees as early as next week.
The Pfizer vaccine, which requires two shots separated by 21 days, showed a 95% effectiveness at preventing infection in large-scale trials. Both shots are necessary for maximum effectiveness.
Still, a permanent solution to the hospitalizations and deaths arising from the coronavirus pandemic will require a much more significant supply of the vaccine—not expected to arrive until sometime next year.
Read the JFP’s coverage of COVID-19 at jacksonfreepress.com/covid19. Get more details on preventive measures here. Email state reporter Nick Judin at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @nickjudin.