More than 105,000 Mississippians have received first doses of a coronavirus vaccine, and more than 9,000 have received both of the required doses.
During a press conference on Monday, Gov. Tate Reeves said that Mississippi is no longer ranked last in total number of people vaccinated. At the time of publishing, the state is ranked 39th in total vaccines administered and 36th in the percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered.
An additional 20,000 COVID-19 vaccine appointments were uploaded into the state health system on Monday, according to Reeves, and more appointments should open up on Jan. 25.
The state’s long-term care facilities were also over-allocated, according to Reeves, and 10,000 first doses of COVID-19 vaccines were reallocated from them. Reeves’ top priority is getting shots in arms, he said, and the state has the ability to administer between 67,000-68,000 first doses this week.
After Gov. Reeves made people aged 65 and older and people with certain underlying health conditions eligible for vaccination last week, the phone line and website for booking vaccination appointments were overwhelmed, with many reporting website crashes and hours long wait times. Reeve’s said that IT specialists had improved website functionality and surge testing on Monday showed the website handling 6,000 new users each second without crashing.
“Nothing shocks me anymore, but we should not have significant additional issues going forward,” Reeves said.
Still, distributing the vaccines the state has been given can only go so far. The level of demand is currently much higher than the number of doses allocated to the state.
"We can only give out as many vaccines as we’re given, but can’t do more than that," Reeves said. "We do still need to recognize that and exercise some patience."
In line with that priority, Reeves said he would not be sending more doses to clinics that have many unadministered doses. Clinics with a distribution rate of 65% or less will not receive any more vaccines until they administer the doses they already have.
The Department of Health administered vaccines to state lawmakers and legislative staffers on Tuesday at the same time as positive tests were confirmed for one state senator and one state representative. It is unclear which lawmakers tested positive for the virus.
The Mississippi Department of Health reported 1,702 new coronavirus cases and 64 deaths on Wednesday.
This brings the state to a total of 256,827 coronavirus cases and 5,638 deaths.
Desoto County has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the state, with 17,331confirmed. For most of the pandemic, DeSoto County only trailed behind Hinds County, the state's most populous county, in its caseload. Hinds now ranks second with 16,373 cases. Harrison County on the Mississippi Gulf Coast ranks third with 13,731 cases. Jackson County ranks fourth with 10,557 confirmed cases.
As of Jan. 18 there were 67 COVID-19 patients and zero open ICU beds at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Southaven. At Methodist Healthcare in Olive Branch there were 30 COVID-19 patients and zero open ICU beds. It's been well over a month since more than three ICU beds were open in DeSoto County, with zero being open on some days.
“Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare remains in a stable state across our entire system. We closely monitor capacity at each of our hospitals,” A Methodist Le Bonheur spokesperson said in a statement. “The data shown on the state website is a single snapshot in time. It’s important to note that the number of total operational beds consistently fluctuates based on staffing and availability. As a large healthcare system, we have the ability to transfer patients from one hospital to another, if needed.
As of Jan. 19, there were seven active outbreaks among DeSoto County long-term care facilities, with 113 total cases between them. The state department of health defines an outbreak at a long-term care facility as one or more cases among residents or two or more cases among staff within 14 days.
Across the state, there are a total of 217 outbreaks at long-term care facilities. 10,006 Mississippians in LTC facilities have tested positive for COVID-19 and 1,855 have died.