JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Recapping our exclusive coverage with Governor Tate Reeves, Dr. Thomas Dobbs, and Mississippi Emergency Management Director Stephen McCraney, this highlights so much that has changed in the past year between this town hall broadcast and our last one sitting down with these state leaders. More than 7,000 Mississippians are gone, our healthcare system pushed to new limits and developing today, one of our three vaccines put on hold.
Following reports of six women suffering serious blood clots out of 6.8 million people across the country taking the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, the FDA and CDC advised a pause in distribution. State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs urges Mississippians to not worry and compare the odds of COVID-19 vs. vaccine deaths.
“If you’re over 65 and diagnosed with Coronavirus in Mississippi your chance of death is one in ten versus one in a million,” Dr. Dobbs explained. “If you look at age 50-64 your chance is two in 100 compared to one in a million and that’s cases, not deaths. Only one in the six women unfortunately died.”
With only two of the vaccines available, Mississippi ranks 45th in the nation for people getting vaccinated per capita. Showing less than 20% of the population getting their doses. Dr. Dobbs attributes this to demographic challenges.
“We’ve been looking at that from day one trying to make sure that we had partners in locations where rural folks lived,” Dr. Dobbs added. “But even for rural folks, there aren’t clinics or doctors so your infrastructure there doesn’t. We steered vaccines to clinics that were being successful and using it quickly to get to our priority populations.”
Mississippi was one of the first in the country to lift the mask mandate as bed space in hospitals opened with weekly case averages declining. Governor Reeves defended this approach despite new variant strains of the virus increases in the state.
“In early March when I made the decision to take all mask mandates off from a county by county basis we had just less than 600 cases per day on a rolling seven-day average,” Gov. Reeves stated. “That was down about 75% from our peak. Since that time our total number of cases has fallen from just under 600 cases per day to below 200 cases per day.”
Over the past year, we’ve learned how to properly socially distance and the importance of masks preventing covid droplets from spreading through the air especially indoors. To continue seeing declines Dr. Dobbs urges people to ease back into normalcy at a smart pace.
“A lot of it depends on the variance. At this pace, unless we get a new variance to overwhelm our vaccine,” Dr. Dobbs warned. “I think things are looking good and we’re not going to have a variant like that in the near future I’ll be hopeful by the midsummer maybe masks aren’t needed at all anymore.”
“If I’m indoors in a room full of a lot of people you’re probably going to see me wearing a mask,” Gov. Reeves followed with. “But at the same token if I’m outdoors on the soccer field watching my daughter play soccer you’re probably not going to see me wearing a mask.”
MEMA Director Stephen McCraney also commented the state is much more prepared for the future in supplying hospitals with needed supplies thanks to the agency buying out warehouses to stock up on PPE.
Other essential workers caught in this pandemic on the frontlines were school teachers who recently made headlines getting another teacher pay raise though still come up short compared to other public school faculty salaries across the country. Something Governor Reeves admitted can’t easily change.