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Younger, healthy unvaccinated people dying from COVID, health officials say

Published: Aug. 11, 2021 at 2:30 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 11, 2021 at 3:55 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Mississippi’s health leaders are holding a press briefing updating record-breaking case numbers, alarming ICU capacity and never seen before COVID-19 case numbers.

Mississippi State Department of Health said last week it had reached a breaking point, with only six ICU beds available in the entire state at that time.

Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves said Wednesday that he and his team are “calmly dealing” with the situation.

State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs says things have been very difficult at the department of health, and that many people there are distressed and exhausted.

“It’s distressing to see that almost all of these deaths are preventable,” Dobbs said.

Dr. Dobbs says he feels like an air traffic controller who’s watching two planes crash together each day and he can’t do anything to avoid it.

He described a healthy 30-year-old man who died of COVID after his mother spent months trying to convince him to get the vaccine.

“These are the tragedies we are going to be telling every single day,” he said.

People in the 50-64 age range are now the leading age of deaths because of a lack of vaccination among the group.

Hospital admissions are higher than they have ever been.

“Within this population, a large number of them are going to end up in the ICU.”

Dobbs said out of every 1,000 cases, about 70-80 of them will end up in the hospital.

“Most of the people being admitted to the hospital are under 50,” he said.

Ninety-seven percent of new cases are among unvaccinated people.

Deaths are a different story, with 17 percent among vaccinated people. Dobbs says these breakthrough deaths are almost all among elderly people and those with serious health issues--the median age of those cases is 78 years old.

State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers says there have been zero deaths because of the vaccine.

He notes virus deaths are on the rise. He says the Delta variant is so infectious that they do not expect things to calm down anytime soon.

“Keep yourself out of harm’s way. Keep yourself out of risk,” Byers said.

He says Delta variant is the predominant strand in Mississippi.

“In Mississippi, if you have COVID, you have the Delta variant.”

He says the Neshoba County Fair likely led to a lot of the transmission happening across the state--not limited to Neshoba county.

“Every single county in the state is at a high level of transmission,” Byers said. “We’re seeing transmission everywhere, and we have to take action.”

Senior Deputy and Director of Health Protection Jim Craig says the situation at the hospitals is much worse than it was last week and in some places is worse than it was in January.

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