Delta variant sparking increased COVID-19 hospitalizations in Mississippi

Published: Jul. 13, 2021 at 10:51 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The University of Mississippi Medical Center says it’s bracing for what may be another spike in COVID-19 cases.

“For the last three weeks, we’ve seen a doubling every week,” explained UMMC Vice Chancellor for Clinical Affairs Dr. Alan Jones. “We’re at the highest point we’ve been in in about the last three months.”

They’re reviewing their COVID-19 policies and procedures. And working to make sure their energy is back.

“It’s still a little bit surreal that we’re faced with some rising numbers,” said Jones. “We certainly remain concerned about the low vaccination rate. The unfortunate thing is we know a number of these both hospitalizations and deaths we’re seeing are preventable.”

At Mississippi Baptist Medical Center, they are also seeing the increases.

“Before July 4 weekend, we were down to about three patients in the hospital... COVID patients,” described pulmonologist and critical care Dr. Maria Rappai. “We’re up to about 35 patients and 9 of them ICU.”

As a pulmonologist, Dr. Maria Rappai has noticed a difference in the way the Delta variant is affecting unvaccinated patients.

“December, January... the lung disease progression was a little bit slower,” she noted. “This one goes from one minute you’re ok and the next day, you can’t walk to the bathroom.”

As the overall hospitalizations climb, we’re learning some of those are children.

After an initial report of 12 children in the ICU, the State Health Officer said a hospital sent in corrected numbers leaving the total at 7 children in the ICU statewide, 2 on ventilators.

The latest trends are a troubling realization for pediatrician Dr. Anita Henderson who says they’ve seen a significant increase in COVID cases in recent weeks.

“We are just very concerned, upset, disheartened, worried with our families out there about what is going on in the state of Mississippi,” noted Henderson, President of the Mississippi Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Henderson says they’ve been disappointed in the low numbers of children 12 and older who have been vaccinated. She says that’s the first line of defense but they know this about the Delta variant:

“We want all our children to be in school in-person without all the disruptions,” detailed Henderson. “But we are concerned that this Delta variant is going to affect school in a negative way.”

Dr. Henderson points out that for those children who are unvaccinated, issues surrounding logistics of quarantine or isolation still come into play. And that may feel like deja vu from last school year.

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