‘We have had so many deaths’: State health officials reflect on year of COVID-19, look to the future

‘We have had so many deaths’: State health officials reflect on year of COVID-19

BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Several developments are being made in the COVID-19 vaccination effort across Mississippi as access and availability continue to grow.

State health officials got together Monday to examine the COVID-19 pandemic as Mississippi approaches March 11, which marks the one-year anniversary of the first case in our state.

For the last year, COVID-19 has been on the forefront of everyone’s minds and, as state health officials look closely at the previous 12 months of the pandemic, MSDH’s Senior Deputy and Director of Health Protection Jim Craig feels this tragedy has helped create heroes.

“We have had so many deaths, especially in our long-term care community that we work with so often trying to protect our vulnerable population,” said Craig. “So those deaths have been very, very tragic, but also my other word would be heroes. I had an opportunity to see a lot of service over the last year, a lot of health care providers that stood up and did things that I think we should all be very very proud of.”

The hard work of healthcare heroes, along with everyday people masking up and practicing safety measures, is what State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers believes is causing Mississippi to see a downward trend.

“Our overall hospitalizations and ICU use for COVID-related illness and ventilator use for COVID-related illness are on the way down,” Byers said.

However, this is not the first time we have seen a downward trend. In June 2020, cases were on the decline before Mississippi was hit with a second wave following Fourth of July celebrations.

“We’re not done with the COVID pandemic,” said State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs. “COVID is real and we’re really winning, but just like in a baseball game, if you’re up a run or two in the sixth or seventh inning, you don’t just lay down.”

Dobbs said we are starting to see vaccines help limit transmission of COVID-19 but everyone must continue practicing safety measures.

Despite state mandates no longer being in effect, health officials strongly encourage everyone to continue wearing a mask.

We’ll hear more stories of hope, survival and loss as we look back at the pandemic over the last year. Tune in at 6:30 p.m., March 11, on CBS to watch WLOX’s special report, Mississippi Tested: The COVID Fight Now and in the Future.

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