‘Rough few weeks’ ahead, Mississippi doctor warns as coronavirus ramps up, but an ‘exit ramp’ exists

Published 5:19 pm Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Mississippi’s top public health official warned the public Tuesday that Mississippi was in for a “rough few weeks” as the Delta variant of COVID-19 coronavirus causes new cases to spike.

“It’s bad right now,” Mississippi State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said Tuesday at a news conference. “We’re in the middle, if not the start, of the fourth wave. We want to bring as many people to the other side as we can.”

Mississippi’s new cases of the virus have tripled since July 1, something Dobbs attributed to a “perfect storm” of the arrival of the more contagious Delta variant as well as people getting together in crowded settings over the summer, particularly July 4.

“We’re going to have a rough few weeks,” he said. “The Delta variant is hitting us strongly.”

Dobbs said 13 of Mississippi’s hospitals had no available ICU beds on Tuesday.

“We’re getting to a point where we have to fly patients from the Delta to the Pine Belt,” he said. “It’s going to be a rough few weeks, so please be careful.”

Dobbs said the Delta variant is much more contagious than the earlier strains of the virus that caused spiked last summer and into the fall and winter.

“Your risk is doubled,” he said. “It’s like rolling the dice. It’s that much more sticky.”

Dobbs said the only way out of the current spike is through personal protection and ultimately getting more people vaccinated.

“You’re either going to get the vaccine or COVID and we know COVID kills people,” he said.

Dobbs said the recent spikes in cases will likely soon lead to increases in deaths among Mississippians.

“Deaths will typically follow case rises in three or four weeks,” he said. “You can be hospitalized for weeks or even months before people pass away.”

A Vicksburg physician and Chief Medical Officer of the Mississippi State Department of Health Dr. Dan Edney said quite simply that he doesn’t want Mississippi to return to what he referred to as the “killing times” of last fall and winter when cases and deaths from COVID-19 spiraled out of control.

“The killing times that’s when we saw the virus attack families wholesale,” he said, adding that vaccinations are the way out of the pandemic.

“If we want this fall to be more normal, the route will be through vaccination,” Edney said. “We have an exit ramp from this pandemic. We just need to take it.”