by Calvin Ishee, Associate Publisher

On Wednesday, December 29, 2021 the Mississippi State Health Department held a teleconference for the media providing an updated status of public safety during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. Both Dr. Thomas Dobbs, Mississippi State Health Officer and Dr. Paul Byers, Mississippi State Epidemiologist, offered their take on the current and projected state of affairs regarding COVID and it’s impact on Mississippians.

As of December 29, new cases rose to almost 5,000, resulting in 19 deaths and bringing total cases in Mississippi to 547,737, with 35,987 reported cases in Harrison County.

In addition to the Delta variant, new cases also include an underdetermined amount of the new Omicron strand of the COVID 19 virus.

The CDC has reduced mandatory isolation time for those with COVID from 10 to 5 days.  Masks are encouraged, even for the vaccinated.

Regarding schools, Dr. Byers commented, although it’s up to the local school districts, “We recommend 1.) following CDC guidelines, 2.) don’t go to school if you’re sick, 3.) isolate as needed and 4.) wear masks indoors”.

Dr. Dobbs added, “We are woefully unvaccinated. Age is an important factor for severity of illness. The booster is very important, now is the time to get vaccinated.”

Avoid large gatherings, especially those held indoors and consider limiting New Year’s parties and special events.

Even though a sufficient number of hospital beds currently exist, staffing shortages are one of the state’s biggest concerns.

The State currently has no mandatory mandates nor are any currently under consideration.

When asked if annual vaccinations would be required, Dr. Byers noted, “It’s hard to predict but it appears that some sort of recurring vaccinations may be needed.”

Mississippians are encouraged to remain vigilant with taking precautions towards preventing the unnecessary spread of COVID-19.

Stay tuned to your Gazebo Gazette for future updates.