Covid-19 numbers steady in Panola; 31% of county vaccinated

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Mississippi’s top public health official said Monday that as COVID-19 cases continue to surge with the highly contagious delta variant, no intensive care beds were available in 35 of the state’s top-level hospitals.

Dr. Thomas Dobbs, the state health officer, also said more than 200 people were waiting in hospital emergency rooms to be admitted, and the problem will grow worse in coming days. The wait times affect not only people with COVID-19 but also those with other health conditions.

The state Health Department said Monday that more than 6,900 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Mississippi from Friday through Sunday.

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“Keep in mind — this will translate into around 500 new hospitalizations in coming days,” Dobbs wrote on Twitter.

He said the intensive care units were full in Level 1, 2 and 3 hospitals in the state’s acute care systems. Those include the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson; North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo; Forrest General Hospital in Hattiesburg; Memorial Hospital in Gulfport and Singing River Health System in Pascagoula.

Panola Medical Center in Batesville and Baptist Memorial Hospital in Oxford are neither at capacity, but both have a higher than usual occupancy due to the resurgence of the Covid-19 virus.

As the Delta variant makes it way north from the nation’s southern borders, Panola County continues to have a low rate of infection. Since July 10, the county has reported just 212 new cases of Covid and no deaths.

There have been 112 total deaths in Panola County, from Covid related sickness, since March 2020 when the state began gathering the daily data, and only two coronavirus deaths in the past 52 days locally.

Mississippi has one of the lowest COVID-19 vaccination rates in the nation. As of Friday, the state Health Department said 35 percent of Mississippi residents were fully vaccinated, compared to 50 percent nationally.

“It was recently said nationally that the Delta variant was becoming a ‘pandemic of the unvaccinated,’” Republican Gov. Tate Reeves wrote Monday on Twitter. “The most recent data from Mississippi suggest the same. Talk to your doctor. Assess the risk. Do the right thing for you. Do the right thing for your family.”

Mississippi schools have been starting classes in recent weeks, some with mask mandates and some without.

The state has confirmed more than 365,000 cases of COVID-19 and about 7,650 coronavirus-related deaths since the pandemic started in the spring of 2020.

At Monday’s meeting of the Board of Supervisors, Daniel Cole (Emergency Operations director for the county), reported that from Jan. 6 to June 5, 2021, at the Batesville Civic Center, a total of 37,496 vaccinations (first and second shots) were given.

“That does not include the numbers from the hospital because we are still getting those,” Cole said. “I would like to say that all of those were Panola County residents, but I would be lying. They were coming from everywhere.”

According to MSDH data released this week, about 36 percent of Panola County’s resident have been fully vaccinated, and 31 percent have received a first dose.