JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves held his first press conference in nearly two weeks regarding COVID-19 in his state.
Reeves’ last presser came before Christmas, when he extended the state’s mask mandate to all but four counties: Claiborne, Issaquena, Sharkey and Tunica. The executive order will be in place until Friday, January 15.
Since then, the state has reached new record-highs in daily case totals and daily deaths.
Governor Reeves says people should stop focusing on executive orders and focus their attention on getting the vaccine and continuing to take steps to slow the virus.
“Admittedly, it’s going slower than I’d hoped,” Reeves said of the vaccine rollout. He says he is convinced the rollout will improve.
He pointed to the CDC’s focus on who should get vaccinated first as a reason for what he believes is slowing things down.
Monday, the Mississippi State Department of Health released a schedule outlining the next steps for a rollout, which marks mid-January as the time for vaccines among vulnerable adults and workforce members most essential to basic community functions such as law enforcement, first responders, food supply and education.
“Please keep protecting yourself and keep protecting your loved ones,” Reeves said.
He says there are more patients with COVID in ICU beds as of last week than there has been at any point during the pandemic.
“We are now in a very critical time and a very critical situation,” Reeves said. He says the risk of hospitals being overwhelmed with patients is higher than ever.
State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs says there was nearly 1,000 deaths in December, as health officials predicted.
“We have 1,369 COVID patients in the hospital right now in Mississippi,” Dobbs said, but said the number of non-COVID patients has declined, in part due to the suspension of elective surgeries.
Dobbs applauded hospitals in getting their vaccines out as quickly as possible. More than 23,000 vaccines have been given out across the state, with many more long-term care facilities scheduled to get their vaccines soon.
“It’s safe, it’s effective,” he said of the vaccine, noting that he, his wife and son (all health care workers) all received the vaccine. “...So obviously, I believe in it.”
Dobbs recommended anyone in health care get their vaccine as soon as possible, and urged them to use the health department’s clinics across the state.
He says people in long-term care facilities are mostly getting the virus from employees, and urged everyone working in those facilities to get the vaccine and prevent spreading it to those who are at high risk of the virus.
There are 18 locations across the state for health care workers to get a drive-thru vaccination. Click here to schedule yours.