Tuesday, January 4, 2022
Both nationwide and across Mississippi, the COVID-19 omicron variant has continued to spread through New Year’s weekend. The Mississippi State Department of Health reported 17,525 new cases for Dec. 30 through Jan. 2, marking a continuing surge in cases and hospitalizations.
“Omicron in full swing!” State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs tweeted this morning. Dobbs noted that the overall severity of illness has decreased, with MSDH reporting five fatalities in their latest report.
From Dec. 27 through Jan 2, the state saw 28,702 cases for a new average of 4,100 confirmed cases every day. The significant case increase comes as the omicron variant gains an increasing share of new infections, with MSDH reporting that omicron now represents the majority of new infections in the state.
“For the previous week leading up to Dec. 25, 59.6% of all identified cases were due to the Omicron variant,” State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs said in a Dec. 30 MSDH press briefing. “As of Dec. 20 and forward of the specimens we've analyzed, 67% are due to Omicron.”
The delta variant represented the primary remainder in cases.
Hospitalizations also continue to climb, with MSDH reporting 742 hospitalized patients as of Jan. 3, up from 514 from Dec. 29. Intensive-care units saw an uptick in patients as well, with 149 ICU patients as of Jan. 3.
Shortages in monoclonal antibody treatments continue to plague the state’s healthcare system, with Dobbs reporting the state receiving just 283 doses of sotrovimab—the sole MAB treatment effective against omicron—this week.
“Very few monoclonals for Mississippi this week (despite efforts to get more),” Dobbs said.
MSDH leadership warned residents not to depend on MAB treatments as a first line of defense against COVID-19.
“This is a real precious asset,” MSDH Director of Communications Liz Sharlot said in a Dec. 30 press conference. “This should not be used instead of getting a COVID vaccine.”
“This is really for people who are ill,” Sharlot said. “We're just asking everybody to do what they can to protect themselves by getting vaccinated and getting their boosters and following all the recommendations.”
Mississippi still lags in vaccination efforts, with less than half of the population fully vaccinated. At 49% fully vaccinated, 1,449,932 residents have received two doses of Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or one dose of Johnson & Johnson’s. Just 446,419 residents have received their booster doses.
Over one million new infections were reported in the United States this week, a new record as omicron spreads across the country.
Hospitalizations are also up across the United States, with more than 100,000 people in hospital with COVID-19 across the country—numbers not seen in four months, marking a clear indication of the fifth wave of the virus.
MSDH reports that since the pandemic began, 10,455 Mississippians have lost their lives to the virus. The state has now suffered over half a million infections, with MSDH reporting 561,262 cases to date.
Email Reporting Fellow Julian Mills at [email protected].