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MSDH predicts ‘rough’ weeks ahead as Delta cases continue to surge across the Mid-South

Published: Jul. 20, 2021 at 7:56 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Doctors said the Mid-South is experiencing a fourth wave of COVID-19 cases, but this time, there’s a way to get above water.

Health leaders continue to promote vaccines as your best protection against the virus. Now, they’re encouraging parents of school-aged children more than ever to get their kids vaccinated.

In Shelby County, the test positivity rate is now up to 10.4 percent. That means it’s jumped a full percentage point in a week and doubled in two weeks.

Mississippi is reporting more ICUs filling up and Arkansas said children of vaccine eligible age lay in the hospital with COVID-19.

“We’re going to have a rough few weeks. Delta is hitting us strongly,” said Mississippi Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs.

Mississippi reported another 573 cases and nine deaths between Monday and Tuesday. A recommendation those 65 and older avoid mass indoor gatherings remains. Dobbs said only seven percent of the state’s cases have been in the vaccinated, but of the few who have died, he said they have been older than 65 years old.

Two more ICUs are reporting full capacity,13 now in total, leaving healthcare workers worried this surge could end up like the surge they saw after the holidays.

“I had an employee in clinic who teared up and told me I can’t go through this again,” Dr. Dan Edney, Mississippi Department of Health chief medical officer. “And we have an answer so we don’t have to go through those killing times again and that’s vaccination.”

Mississippi is looking for more physicians to offer the vaccine at their offices. It’s also starting an adopt a school program where physicians can help administer vaccines at school to eligible children with parental permission.

One Arkansas pediatrician wants kids to be back in class, but knows if vaccination rates stay low, back-to-school season could cause a boost in cases. Dr. Rick Barr with Arkansas Children’s Hospital currently has about a dozen kids in the hospital with COVID-19. Half are in the ICU.

“Of the children we have admitted to the hospital and to the ICU, many would have been eligible for the vaccine,” Barr said. “This is a preventable disease.”

Between Sunday and Monday, Arkansas reported 543 new cases and nearly 80 new hospitalizations.

Tennessee reported 498 new cases Tuesday, with 129 in Shelby County. Currently, 12 percent of the state’s ICU beds are free.

To find a vaccine in Shelby County, click here. You can find vaccines across the Mid-South here.

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