HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WHLT) – Mississippi Department of Health is reporting more than 7,000 new cases of COVID-19 making the total number of cases since the pandemic started nearly 600,000 cases of the virus.

These numbers reflect the latest rise in numbers from Wednesday, December 22 through Sunday, December 26 as we take face a virus three times more infectious than Delta. A fate doctors said they didn’t originally anticipate.

“This is an emerging pandemic and we’ve had to go through variants that we weren’t quite anticipating. To be honest when we were first talking about this back in March 2020, we were just thinking ‘okay we get through this rush and maybe we mask or test or vaccinate or find therapeutics and get out of it. We quite honestly didn’t anticipate as many variants as we do now. In hindsight it makes sense but at the time we hadn’t thought about it,” said Dr. Rambod Rouhbakhsh, Hattiesburg Clinic.

Doctors said Omicron will wipe out Delta.

“Omicron will completely wipe out Delta because it going to be a more fit virus. It’s going to evolve to continue to replicate in us and the more of us that can be a host for it either because we are not vaccinated, under vaccinated or our immunity has waned the more likely it is to continue to replicate,” said Dr. Rambod Rouhbakhsh.

“Of course vaccines are going to help everyone. If you’re not vaccinated please get vaccinated, if you are vaccinated please get boosted. If you are boosted that leads the number two tool in our arsenal which is masks. Masks work, we have really good evidence now that masks are extremely effective,” said Dr. Rambod Rouhbakhsh.

Shelves for at home COVID testing are empty. Pharmacists said they saw test who previously weren’t being bought in large quantities now being sold out due to the holiday season. Doctors say the at home test is very efficient in detecting the vaccine.

As far as masks go, there is a hierarchy of masks with the N95 at the top, then the surgical mask and then the cloth masks. Doctors said even if its just the cloth mask it will be more sufficient than no mask at all.