Omicron variant is dominate strain of COVID-19 in Mississippi, health experts say


JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Leaders with the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) said the omicron variant is the dominate strain of COVID-19 in the state.

State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers said the variant is highly contagious. More than 73% of all samples taken from testing centers across Mississippi are omicron cases.

Byers said the variant does show milder symptoms in patients, especially for those who have received a booster shot. Data showed the spread is between younger age groups.

According to Byers, omicron is not causing as many hospitalizations as the delta variant, but the health care system is still seeing an increase in the number of cases.

“We are having a lot of cases, and even with a lot of cases not being hospitalized, it can still translate into a lot of hospitalizations, and it’s still going to put pressure on the hospital systems. Additionally, we are in the middle of flu season, and we have a lot of people being hospitalized for flu, as well as any other condition that requires hospitalization. So, I think we will still see some pressure on the hospital systems just in the cases of omicron that well see in the next few weeks,” he stated.

Health officials said there are active COVID-19 outbreaks in 91% of Mississippi’s nursing homes, mostly involving staff. There are active outbreaks in 192 of Mississippi’s 211 nursing homes, according to Byers.

“The majority of the cases we’re seeing are brought in by the staff — the infected staff who may become infected outside of the setting and then bring it back to residents,” Byers said.

State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said it’s important for people to wear a face mask indoors, wash their hands and get a COVID-19 vaccine.

Overall, 48.9% of people in Mississippi are fully vaccinated, according to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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