Health officials continue to warn of rising cases of the coronavirus delta variant in Mississippi and are urging mask usage be instituted in state schools.
The latest call for masks to be returned to mIssissippi schools on Friday morning, July 31 came from Dr. Anita Henderson of Hattiesburg, who is the president of the state chapter for the American Academy of Pediatrics.
“Delta variant is exploding in Mississippi @tatereeves,” Henderson posted on Twitter. “Children under 12 are unable to be vaccinated. We must protect kids in schools and masks in schools are our safest option.”
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves at this time continues to insist he is not mandating face mask usage. At the Neshoba County Fair this week, Reeves was quoted as saying the new CDC mask recommendations are “foolish” and “harmful.”
Reeves did encourage Mississippians to get vaccinated, saying the current situation is a “pandemic of the unvaccinated.” About 1.2 million state residents have been vaccinated.
Friday’s daily report from the Mississippi Department of Health indicates 1,643 additional cases of coronavirus and 10 additional virus-related deaths. That brings the state’s total number of cases for the pandemic since March 2020 to 343,505 with a total number of virus-related victims to 7,543.
In DeSoto County, there have now been 23,229 cases and 283 victims of coronavirus. There were 64 new cases from Thursday’s update and no additional deaths in DeSoto County
The MSDH’s latest report shows 34 percent of DeSoto County residents have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine and 29 percent are fully vaccinated.
Hospital bed space is back to being at a premium. Baptist Memorial Hospital-DeSoto in Southaven reported no beds available. Thirty-seven of the hospital’s 192 total beds are filled with COVID-19 patients and five of the 36 ICU beds at Baptist-DeSoto are treating patients with coronavirus.
Methodist-Olive Branch Hospital is also reporting Friday they did not have any open available beds. Sixteen of the 32 total staffed beds at Methodist were coronavirus patients and three of the six ICU beds had patients with COVID-19.
The latest figures available for bed space were through Wednesday, July 28.
The Delta variant remains responsible for the surge in cases, along with low vaccination numbers, say health officials. About 37 percent of state residents have been given at least one dose of vaccine and 32 percent of the state’s population are fully vaccinated, state health officials say.
The latest county-by-county vaccination results are found on the Mississippi State Health Department website.