HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WHLT) – Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker provided the first COVID-19 update of 2022 on Wednesday, January 5.

Barker reported that there are 75 people who tested COVID-19 positive in the hospital. Of those 75, 17 are in the ICU. Less than half of those hospitalized are fully vaccinated.

There is an average of 106 new cases of COVID-19 each day in the Pine Belt. There are 123 positive cases in Forrest County and and just over 100 in Lamar County. Barker is encouraging neighbors to get a booster shot to stop the spread.

“While it does appear that a third of these have received two doses, it’s important to remember the definition of fully vaccinated is two doses. We know that at six months, the ability to fight off starts to weigh. That’s why it’s important to get your booster shot,” said Barker.

The number of positive cases has quadrupled in a week. Barker said nearly 20 people were admitted to the ICU. There have been a combined 400 deaths between Forrest County and Lamar County since the beginning of the pandemic.

“We’re just doing everything we can – washing our hands, staying six feet from people and mainly doing everything we can do,” said Hattiesburg neighbor Howard Jenkins.

Forrest County is currently 40% vaccinated. Barker said his biggest concern is low vaccination rates.