State reports 10 children in Mississippi hospitals with COVID-19 coronavirus; one teen recently died from virus

Published 4:38 pm Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Ten Mississippi children remained hospitalized Tuesday with the COVID-19 coronavirus, state health officials reported Wednesday. Three of those children were so sick they require ICU care.

The Delta variant of the virus is spreading rapidly, Mississippi State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said Wednesday, adding that the virus is infecting younger and mostly unvaccinated people.

“We are really seeing a phenomenal increase in cases in Mississippi,” he said. “This is not surprising; it’s something we’ve been seeing coming for a while.”

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Dobbs said 10 Mississippi children were hospitalized Tuesday, the latest numbers he had available, and three of those children were in ICU beds. Dobbs said that’s only Mississippi children in Mississippi hospitals, adding that there are likely more in children’s hospitals in neighboring states.

“Right now with the highly contagious Delta circulating and the majority of our children unvaccinated, it’s the perfect recipe for transmission in the schools,” Dobbs said.

He said CDC studies show approximately one-quarter of Mississippi children have probably had the COVID-19 virus, but approximately three-quarters remain vulnerable to the virus.

“We know how to diminish risks,” Dobbs said. “We have to build a protective cocoon around our kids.”

Dobbs said the public can help diminish the risks to everyone, including children.

“We know how to diminish risks,” he said, referencing mask usage, social distancing and vaccines for those eligible. “If you ignore it, COVID is going to take advantage of that lapse.”

Dobbs said the state recently recorded its fourth death of a child since the pandemic began.

The most recent death was a teenager, he said.

“The recent death had an underlying medical condition, but it’s a common one that people live with every day in Mississippi,” Dobbs said, adding that whenever someone questions a COVID-19 death and asks about the person’s underlying conditions it’s a concern. “It kind of hurts my heart a bit to be honest. Medical conditions are very common. it could be asthma, it could be eczema …”

Mississippi State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers said the recent death is the second child who died of COVID-19 in 2021 and said two died last year.

“At least one of the children who died had absolutely no underlying problems,” Byers said. “Certainly, the risk is greater for children who have underlying problems.

The number of children who have died of COVID-19 since the pandemic began 18 months ago is approximately half the number of pediatric deaths attributed to influenza in Mississippi over the last five years. Byers said state records show only nine children have died as a result of influenza since 2016.