The Coahoma County COVID-19 case curve decline again this week with the county reporting a dramatic drop in cases over the past two weeks and only one death due to the disease in February.
As of Tuesday, the Mississippi State Department of Health said there have been 2,722 cases of COVID-19 reported in the county and 65 deaths due to the disease since the first case was reported locally on March 18.
That was up 14 cases from the 2,708 cases reported last week
MSDH reported this week that 10 deaths had been reported in Coahoma County based on data taken from official death certificates since Jan. 1.
That averages out to 12.02 percent of the county’s population who have tested positive and a fatality rate of 0.29 percent among the county’s 22,628 residents.
Coahoma County reported a high of 193 new cases on July 25 and again on Jan. 23 of this year, but the number of cases then plummeted to 79 and 52 cases the next two weeks.
While there has been no official statement, it appears the vaccine could be a factor. Cold weather has kept people inside and away from social gatherings that often spread the event.
COVID-19 vaccines are available in Mississippi and area locations offering COVID-19 vaccinations are:
• Bolivar Medical Center in Bolivar County.
• Delta Health Center in Bolivar County.
• South Sunflower Medical Center in Sunflower County.
• Aaron E. Henry, Tunica Clinic in Tunica County.
• Clarksdale Walmart on State Street.
Those eligible for the vaccine include healthcare personnel, individuals aged 65 years and older and individuals aged 16-64 years with certain underlying medical conditions.
Coahoma County residents are asked to call their healthcare provider to find out qualifications for getting the vaccine and where they are being administered. Coahoma County residents should not call the Coahoma County Health Department as they do not have the vaccine and are not answering the phone.
Coahoma County reported its first COVID-19 fatality on April 4 with the death of Bishop T.T. Scott, 88, leader of St. James Temple of God in Christ.
Frantic testing in the community just before school started saw the number of cases in the community and Mississippi skyrocket. That spike has been linked to the end of state and federal assistance that ran out in late July. Those who test positive for the disease can get two weeks – and sometimes longer – of unemployment assistance if they test positive for COVID-19.
Communities can also lobby state health officials for more resources to fight the disease as cases go up and states can be paid by the federal government based on the numbers of cases reported.
Statewide there have been 291,222 cases reported as of Tuesday and 6,577 deaths. That means 10-percent of Mississippians have tested positive for COVID-19 and .23 percent of the state’s 2.876 million residents have died.
That averages 3,551 cases over Mississippi’s 82 counties, with Coahoma County well below that average.
Across the nation the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported 27,993,504 people or 8.5 percent of the nation’s 328.2 million people have contracted the disease and 498,993 or 1.8 percent of those infected have died.
Epidemiologists with the Center for Disease Control have estimated herd immunity – the number need to become infected, survive the disease and become immune to spreading it – would need to hit one-third to curb COVID-19. That means 7,542 people in Coahoma County would have to either contract the disease or be successfully vaccinated.
The CDC also says many people – especially those under the age of 19 – often get the disease and do not exhibit symptoms. Mississippi has had no child fatalities under the age of 1-year-old and only two COVID deaths ages 1- to 10-years-old.
The disease has a greater impact on the elderly and those with underlying health concerns.
MSDH said Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccine began being dispensed in Coahoma County in mid-January and serum was distributed to hospitals and health facilities for those involved in COVID-19 patient care. Long-term care facility residents and staff were next in line as were first responders such as police, fire and ambulance personnel.
CDC has said additional doses of COVID-19 vaccine are expected over the coming weeks, with expansion of vaccination to all healthcare workers in any setting, essential workers, those with chronic diseases and the elderly next in line.
The City of Clarksdale announced the extension of indoor and outdoor gathering, bar capacity and social distancing requirements in March and many of those requirements are still in place. The Board of Mayor and Commissioners have issued 20 executive orders related to COVID-19. Most in the community are not aware of the requirements other than being asked to wear a mask, practice social distancing and wash their hands.
Those who test positive are being quarantined for two weeks and family members and co-workers can also be quarantined.
Several convenience stores and restaurants in the area have closed after staff became infected. Major grocery stores, retail outlets and fast food restaurants remain open and are hiring replacement workers to fill in for those who test positive.
The pandemic began 329 days ago and at this point 97.6 percent of Coahoma County residents who have caught coronavirus have gotten well. As of Monday MSDH says 364,456 of the state’s confirmed cases have gotten well.
The Mississippi State Department of Health has ramped up testing procedures across the state and most local healthcare providers offer the test for free and are reimbursed by the state.
The MSDH website listed the following locations offering free COVID-19 testing:
Clarksdale: Fast Pace Health at 662-966-1012.
Clarksdale: Aaron E. Henry CHC at 662-624-4292.
Tunica: Aaron E. Henry CHC at 662-363-3656.
Greenville: Delta Regional Medical Center at 662-725-6000.
Those wanting to be tested must call in advance to prepare the clinic to administer a test.