The number of local cases of COVID-19 are rising and the community is being urged to get their shot or literally face fatal consequences.
Coahoma County has one of the worst vaccination rates in the state and Mississippi has one of the worst vaccination rates in the country.
It appears the vaccine is a factor in the drop of the number of cases, despite the fact that only 37-percent of the county’s residents have gotten their first shot and only 33-percent have gotten their second vaccination.
COVID-19 vaccines are available – free of charge – at practically all pharmacies and Coahoma County held a massive immunization drive this summer with only about 100 vaccinations given.
The Mississippi State Department of Health as of Friday has confirmed there has only been four deaths in Coahoma County since the first of May, or the past 13 weeks, and 170 cases of COVID-19, or about 13 cases per week, reported during that same time.
The most recent numbers show a total of 3,103 confirmed cases and 85 deaths due to the disease since the first case was reported locally on March 18, 2020.
The number of confirmed cases averages out to 13.71 percent of the county’s population who have tested positive and a fatality rate of 0.37 percent among the county’s 22,628 residents.
Coahoma County reported a high of 193 new cases on July 25, and 196 cases on Jan. 23. Coahoma County has reported single digit cases in late May and early June.
Thirty-three new cases were reported the week ending Saturday, July 24.
Those eligible for the free vaccine include anyone over the age of 12 who do not have 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 last fall saw the number of cases in the community and Mississippi skyrocket. That spike was linked to the end of state and federal assistance that ran out in late July. The January spike has been attributed to the vaccine getting to the public and people becoming more social and more lax about COVID hygiene after the winter lockdown.
Coahoma County is apparently experiencing the “back to school spike” again this August.
The state is also figuring the infection rate in a new way with a confirmed and probable infection numbers.
There have been 212,906 confirmed cases in the state and another 137,164 probably cases. Mississippi has also reported 5,237 confirmed deaths due to COVID and 2,353 probable deaths
Statewide there have been 350,070 total cases reported as of Tuesday and 5,237 confirmed COVID-19 related deaths. That means 12.1-percent of Mississippians have tested positive for COVID-19 over the past 18 months and .18 percent of the state’s 2.876 million residents have died.
That averages 4,269.1 cases over Mississippi’s 82 counties, with Coahoma County well below that average.
Across the nation the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported 35,171,679 people or 10.7 percent of the nation’s 328.2 million people have contracted the disease and 611,791 or 1.7 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 54 COVID cases and only two 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.
The City of Clarksdale announced the extension of indoor and outdoor gathering, bar capacity and social distancing requirements in April 2020. The Board of Mayor and Commissioners have issued 24 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 for the second time 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 468 days ago and at this point 99.65 percent of Coahoma County residents who have caught coronavirus have gotten well. As of Friday MSDH says 320,771 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.