State Health Officer says Delta variant is ‘sweeping over Mississippi like a tsunami’

Published: Aug. 5, 2021 at 7:53 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 5, 2021 at 8:10 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) -Mississippi is having problems with COVID outbreaks in communities across the state. And health leaders warn it’s likely only going to get worse.

“The Delta variant is sweeping over Mississippi like a tsunami,” described State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs.

Vaccinated but still get the virus? You’d be labeled a “breakthrough” case. It is happening.

“We have this engine of COVID transmission, and the fuel is unvaccinated folks,” said Dobbs. “That engine is revving in red line. And so there is going to be some collateral damage, unfortunately. Even folks that have done everything they can to protect themselves.”

The State Epidemiologist says the data shows that’s exactly what’s been happening so far.

“The vast majority of cases are occurring in unvaccinated individuals,” described Dr. Paul Byers. “And these unvaccinated individuals are serving as the source of transmission into those vulnerable populations that may not have mounted a robust immune response from the vaccine.”

Still, there’s a common thread for the majority of those folks who got the shot, still got COVID, and later died.

“The vaccine breakthrough deaths we are seeing are largely occurring in older individuals and in individuals who have underlying immunocompromising or severe underlying comorbidities.”

Dobbs and Byers referred to this pattern as spillover, saying it helps that Mississippians over 65 have the highest vaccination rates. But those just younger don’t have that same level of protection.

“It is trending toward people in the age group of 50 to 64 are going to be the highest mortality rate group in the state of Mississippi and coming weeks,” estimated Dobbs. It almost matches the 65 and older. And why is that? It’s because 50 to 64 age group is at risk significantly, but their vaccination rate is so much lower.”

Dr. Dobbs says he’s talked to officials in the state about the nursing shortage, but it’s not something that can be fixed overnight. He said,” there’s no cavalry coming,” and there’s no easy solution for staffing amid what he expects to be the worst wave to date.

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