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Mississippi State Dept. of Health will align school guidance with CDC’s recommendations

Published: Jul. 28, 2021 at 8:18 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Mississippi is implementing protocols last in place during the peak of the pandemic as the state’s hospitals become overwhelmed and COVID-19 cases continue to grow.

Plus, in light of another pediatric death due to COVID-19 and the start of school, the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) will adjust its school guidance to include universal masking.

Nearly 1,900 COVID-19 cases were reported in Mississippi Wednesday and six more deaths. Over the last two weeks, the state has reported several hospital ICUs at capacity. At times, this leaves many critically ill patients to receive help in the emergency room until an ICU bed is available.

“We have in many ways absolutely worn out our health professionals,” said Mississippi Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs.

Mississippi, like nearly every state, is experiencing a nursing shortage. Now, a plan has been enacted to free up some staff and resources.

“On Monday, August 1, hospitals must begin to delay certain elective procedures that require overnight hospitalization,” MSDH official Jim Craig said. “This should increase our critical resources availability within these hospitals.”

That order lasts for two weeks.

Meanwhile, in pediatric ICUs in the Magnolia State, there are three COVID-19 patients. Ten kids in total are being hospitalized for the virus.

Tuesday, the state announced the death of a teenager from COVID-19. That teen is the fourth pediatric death in the state since the start of the pandemic. Dobbs said the teenager had a common underlying condition, but did not reveal it.

This announcement comes on the heels of the start of school.

MSDH plans to release new guidance for K-12 school settings, aligning itself with the recent recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

“To recommend all students, teachers and staff, and visitors in indoor settings wear a mask,” MSDH Chief Epidemiologist, Dr. Paul Byers, said.

Governor Tate Reeves has said he will not issue a mask mandate following the CDC guidance. Dobbs said it’s an over reach of the health department’s authority to do so instead.

Dobbs wants people to take on individual responsibility and take the CDC recommendations seriously and get vaccinated.

“You all, it’s not everything we can do,” Dobbs said. “This isn’t an ‘us’ thing. We got into this mess together and we need to get ourselves out together.”

Mississippi only has 34 percent of its population vaccinated. Now, 88 percent of hospitalizations and 82 percent of deaths are among the unvaccinated.

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