JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Leaders with the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) reported another pediatric COVID-19 death. This is the seventh pediatric death due to COVID-19 in the state.

State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers said the child was less than a year old.

In recent weeks, health leaders said there’s been a rise in pregnant women not surviving their battle with COVID-19 in recent weeks. They said eight pregnant women have died due to COVID-19, and all of them were unvaccinated.

“We do know that COVID is especially problematic and dangerous for pregnant women,” State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said. “But we also know it can be deadly for the baby in the womb. With COVID, we’ve seen a doubling of the rate of fetal demise, or the death of the baby in the womb, after 20 weeks. It’s been a real tragedy.”

Jim Craig, senior deputy for the Mississippi Department of Health and Director of Health Protection, said the state is seeing a small improvement in hospital bed availability, but ICU capacity continues to be “very scarce.”

“The bed capacity for ICU space is effectively zero still in the state of Mississippi,” Craig said. Craig said the Department of Health has applied to extend the support of federal partners working at the Jackson and Biloxi Veterans Affairs hospitals, the 23-person Department of Defense military team at the University of Mississippi Medical center and a group working on monoclonal antibody administration at the university.

Dobbs said the COVID-19 vaccine is helpful and successful in preventing these severe outcomes in pregnant women, as well as monoclonal antibody treatment.

However, he said vaccine hesitancy continues to be a problem in the state. Mississippi is nearing 1.5 million — almost half the state’s population — people who have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine.

“We are making some progress,” he said. ”…But we don’t have near enough people in the state who are immune.”

Byers said the state is seeing a slight decrease in coronavirus cases in schools. Schools are required to self-report information on cases and students quarantined to the state. For the week of Aug. 30 through Sept. 3, 15,000 students were on quarantine, compared with 23,000 in the previous week and 28,000 in the week before that.

When it comes to other coronavirus variants, Byers said there have been four mu cases reported in Mississippi.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.