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Growing number of states reporting omicron cases; Mississippi added to the list

Published: Dec. 6, 2021 at 6:08 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Mississippi is the latest state to report an omicron variant case of COVID 19.

It joins more than a dozen other states reporting the new variant. Tennessee and Arkansas had not reported any as of Monday afternoon, but the Tennessee State Health commissioner said it’s only a matter of time.

More than a week following Thanksgiving, Tennessee is reporting a slight uptick in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. Now, more than 800 people are hospitalized with the virus in the state, which is up from about 700 three weeks ago.

Tennessee Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey said she has her eye on the uptick and is not overly concerned yet.

“I can tell you from our knowledge, it is not the omicron variant,” Piercey said.

Now, at least 16 states have reported omicron cases of COVID-19, including Tennessee border states Missouri and Mississippi.

Piercey said some early data shows the variant causes more mild cases, but sequence testing around the state continues to spot the variant in the Volunteer state early. This summer, Memphis and West Tennessee saw some of the first delta cases, following spikes in neighboring Missouri and Arkansas. It’s likely that may happen again.

“Anytime you have a new variant, you don’t really know how it’s going to act,” Piercey said. “But Missouri has a confirmed case. Another border state will come out today with a confirmed case, so logic would tell us that people who live closer to those states may have a higher likelihood of seeing those variants first.”

But doctors said we’re more prepared now than ever before with vaccines available for people five and up. Plus, two antiviral drugs are expected to receive emergency use authorization before Christmas.

“We don’t know how much we’re going to be getting,” Piercey said. “We know we’ll get about two percent of the nation’s supply.”

Going into Christmas, Piercey said the best way to have a safe gathering is to make sure all eligible people are vaccinated and those who qualify get their booster shot as well.

“We have got to learn how to live with COVID virus just like influenza virus,” Piercey said. “So, I want you to go out and celebrate with your friends and your family, but I want you to be safe.”

For more COVID-19 resources click here. For a vaccination location closest to you click here.

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