Mississippi State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs warned residents about a surge of Covid-19 cases in the southern state on Tuesday and said that seven children are in the state’s ICUs, including two children on a ventilator.
“Please be safe and if you are 12 or older – please protect yourself,” the doctor wrote.
The children make up a small fraction of the state’s hospitalized patients. According to state data, there are 283 patients hospitalized with a confirmed Covid-19 infection as of Tuesday, including 98 in the ICU and 42 on ventilators. Hospitalizations have doubled since July 4, when there were 138 people hospitalized with confirmed Covid-19, according to the state data.
Despite the recent rise, Mississippi’s hospitalization numbers are at about the same level as in May, and are down 80% from the peak in early January, when mass vaccination efforts had just begun. But the upswing in under-vaccinated states like Mississippi, Missouri and Arkansas have caused renewed concern among public health officials.
“We really need to get more people vaccinated, because that’s the solution,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Monday on “CBS This Morning.” “This virus will, in fact, be protected against by the vaccine.”
In general, young people can become infected with Covid-19 and spread it to others but are far less likely to experience severe effects from the illness. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children under 18 account for 12.5% of US Covid-19 cases but just 0.1% of deaths, while people over 50 make up 95% of Covid-19 deaths.
The rise in hospitalizations comes as Mississippi has the lowest vaccination rate in the US, with 44% of people 12 and up having received at least one vaccine dose, according to data from the CDC. Children under 12 are not yet eligible to be vaccinated against Covid-19 in the US.
Across the country, unvaccinated people make up the vast majority of cases, hospitalizations and deaths from the virus. Of Mississippi’s 54 Covid-19 deaths between June 7 and July 5, just four were among fully vaccinated people, Dobbs said on Twitter.
Over the past week, states that have fully vaccinated more than half of their residents have reported an average Covid-19 case rate that is about a third of that in states which have fully vaccinated less than half of their residents, according to a CNN analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University and the CDC.
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