Reports of COVID cases are on the rise locally and the rest of Mississippi with the arrival of the Omicron variant. State health officials said 67% of new infections are due to the latest spinoff of coronavirus.
Tate County recorded its 5,000th case of COVID-19 at the beginning of January, according to statistics from the Mississippi Department of Health. An additional 543 cases and three virus-related deaths have been reported locally since mid-December. Tate County has registered 5,249 cases of 121 COVID-19 and 121 deaths associated with the virus since the pandemic began in March 2020.
Mississippi set a record on Thursday, Jan. 5, for the highest number of new COVID cases with 7,079. The previous record of 6,592 was set the day before, surpassing the record of 5,048 set in August 2021.
The demand for testing is putting a strain on the state’s supply of tests, according to health officials.
“We are experiencing a huge COVID increase and there have been more flu cases than previous weeks as well,” said Vanessa White, Administrator for Parekh Medical Clinic in Senatobia. “We used all the rapid tests we were allocated and have been out for almost 12 days now. We just purchased a new piece of equipment that will run in-house tests for flu, COVID, respiratory syncytial, and strep all at once.”
The U.S. is urging everyone 12 and older get a COVID-19 booster as soon as they’re eligible, to help fight back the hugely contagious Omicron.
Boosters already were encouraged for all Americans 16 and older, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is endorsing an extra Pfizer shot for younger teens – those 12 to 15 — and strengthened its recommendation that 16-and 17-year-olds get it, too.
“It is critical that we protect our children and teens from COVID-19 infection and the complications of severe disease,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a statement. This booster dose will provide optimized protection against COVID-19 and the Omicron variant. I encourage all parents to keep their children up to date with CDC’s COVID-19 vaccine recommendations.”
Vaccines still offer strong protection against serious illness from any type of COVID-19 including omicron, according to health experts. But the newest mutant can slip past a layer of the vaccines’ protection to cause milder infections. Studies show a booster dose at least temporarily revs up virus-fighting antibodies to levels that offer the best chance at avoiding symptomatic infection, even from omicron.
Only 49% of the total Mississippi population has been fully vaccinated. The number of fully vaccinated Mississippians remains below the U.S. average of 62%. In Tate County, 45% of the population has received at least one dose of the vaccine, while 41% are full vaccinated.