Governor pushes to keep schools open as state sets COVID records

Published 1:23 pm Friday, August 20, 2021

Governor Tate Reeves fights to keep schools open while the Delta variant and the number of positive COVID-19 cases surge.

As of Friday, the Mississippi State Department of Health reported 5,048 more cases of COVID-19 in Mississippi, 54 deaths, and 172 ongoing outbreaks in long-term care facilities. The state now has a total of 406,249 cases, 7,991 deaths, and 1,099,899 persons fully vaccinated.

Lafayette County has gained 37 new cases and no deaths or LTC facility outbreak. The county now has a total of 7,191 cases, 128 deaths and 190 LTC facility outbreaks.

The MSDH reports that 37 percent of the total population is fully vaccinated.

“One of the things our whole country learned is that it’s vital that our kids are in school doing in-person learning,” said Reeves in a press conference late Thursday.  “Closing schools last year was a mistake that far too many states made. We’ve not been perfect in Mississippi but I’m proud we didn’t make that mistake.”

“I want (to make) every school open every day possible this year and I’m willing to give local governments the tools they need to do it.”

On the same day, the University of Mississippi Medical Center reported that it had 28 pediatric patients with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 and all of the hospitalized children are unvaccinated. At the time, there were eight children in the ICU. Five of the patients were under the age of 12 and too young to take the vaccine.

This is the highest number of pediatric COVID-19 patients at Children’s of Mississippi since the beginning of the pandemic.

Reeves said 1,633 patients in hospitals battling COVID and 486 in ICU beds, which exceeds the largest numbers Mississippi had during the pandemic. 

And, he asked the public to consider that in the last month 89% of those hospitalizations and 87% of COVID-19 deaths have occurred amongst unvaccinated. About 1.3 million Mississippians have received their first dose and the number of deaths in the vaccinated is in the 150 range.

“I believe you as an individual Mississippian can be trusted to make good and responsible decisions,” said Reeves. “Good practices are a choice. Staying healthy is a choice. Keeping your neighbors and coworkers healthy is a choice. Let’s all make the right choices.”

MSDH State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs, M.D., echoed Reeves recommendation and also encouraged Mississipians to talk with their physicians about monoclonal antibodies. 

Monoclonal antibodies simulate a robust immune response to the virus and target the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2, reducing the severity of the infection even if treatment is received after a positive diagnosis and the onset of symptoms.

The order allows healthcare providers to use the antibody treatment for adults and children who are 12 years and older who have tested positive for the virus within the first ten days of symptoms.

Individuals who are 65 or older, obese, pregnant, living with chronic kidney disease, diabetes, heart disease or immunosuppressive diseases, sickle cell disease, and other conditions can receive the treatment as well.

Dobbs provided an Antibody Hotline at 1-877-978-6453 for those who are interested in the option.

“There will be an option for monoclonal antibodies information, where you can go to get monoclonal antibodies and, in certain areas where we have special relationships, they will do a direct hand off to that center to make sure you have monoclonal antibodies,” he said.