7th Mississippi child dies of COVID, eight pregnant women lose lives to virus in a month – Clarion Ledger

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COVID-19: New variant is here, but Fauci says not ‘immediate threat’

A new COVID variant has emerged called mu, but Dr. Fauci says they are “keeping a very close eye on it.”

Staff video, USA TODAY

Mississippi health officials have reported a seventh child, under age 1, is dead due to complications from COVID-19 and eight pregnant women in the state have lost their lives to the coronavirus since Aug. 1. 

All eight expecting mothers were unvaccinated, Mississippi State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs said, adding that COVID-19 is particularly dangerous and problematic for pregnant women and can be potentially deadly for the fetus. Some of the women’s babies were born premature and are alive, Dobbs said, but did not specify a number. Officials are still investigating the cases.

“It is a tragic and difficult circumstance,” Dobbs said during a Wednesday press conference. “The vaccine is very helpful and remarkably successful in preventing these outcomes in pregnant women.” 

He reiterated that monoclonal antibodies and vaccination are approved and recommended for pregnant women, noting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists back both.

Across Mississippi and other states with low vaccination rates, the coronavirus is impacting more and more children, public health officials say.

“We’re still thick in the delta surge,” Dobbs said.

Since the coronavirus came into Mississippi in March 2020, the Mississippi State Department of Health has reported over 75,000 cases in residents 17 and younger. On Wednesday morning, the University of Mississippi Medical Center, which has the state’s only pediatric hospital, reported 18 children hospitalized for coronavirus-related causes.

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The center’s chair of the department of pediatrics, physician Mary Taylor, recently said the hospital’s pediatric COVID-19 cases have recently spiked to 20-30 cases.

Children needing intensive care unit support has also increased, Taylor said, with seven to 10 pediatric cases in the ICUS compared to January highs when there were one to two pediatric cases. 

 In August, pediatric COVID-19 hospitalizations increased four-fold in states with low vaccination rates compared to those with higher vaccination levels, according to research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Mississippi, with 38% of residents fully vaccinated, lags behind the nation’s current average of 53%. Over 23% of residents aged 12-15 are protected against the virus, and 27% of Mississippi’s 16 and 17-year-olds have received the shot, the state’s health department reported. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved the vaccine for children 12 and under. 

The best way to keep those safe from the virus who are not eligible for vaccination, primarily children under 12, is to be fully vaccinated, said State Epidemiologist Paul Byers.

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While children haven’t shown a high propensity for severe illness when infected with the coronavirus, health officials say the delta variant has been the driver behind recently mounting cases and hospitalizations among children and adolescents.

In Mississippi, health officials have pointed to the increase in face-to-face, unmasked, summer activities and the state’s vaccination rates as the breeding ground for the delta variant’s spread.

The child’s death marks Mississippi’s fifth pediatric COVID-19 death this year. In 2020, two children died of virus-related complications.

The following is known about the other six deaths:

  • Early Sept. 2020: A child between the ages of 1-5 due to multisystem inflammatory syndrome.
  • Late Oct. 2020: A child between the ages 6-10.
  • Between Feb. and March 2021: A teen between 11-17.
  • Late July 2021: A teen between 11-17 with a common underlying medical condition.
  • Aug. 14, 2021: 13-year-old M’Kayla Robinson.
  • Aug. 25, 2021: A child younger than 5.

COVID-19 in Mississippi schools

Over 2,800 Mississippi K-12 students tested positive for the coronavirus last week and nearly 16,000 students, teachers and staff were quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19. 

Of 817 schools reporting from 72 of Mississippi’s 82 counties, there were  COVID-19 outbreaks in schools statewide between Aug. 30 to Sept. 3, according to the health department’s Wednesday report. The 15,398 students in quarantine make up over 3.5% of the public school population.

While positive case counts and related quarantines remains in the thousands, Byers said it’s a decline from previous weeks.

Last week: Over 23,000 K-12 Mississippi students in quarantine after COVID-19 exposure

From Aug. 23 to 27, the Mississippi State Department of Health reported over 23,000 students in quarantine statewide, accounting for 5% of the public school population. In that week, nearly 4,000 new COVID-19 cases were among students. Over 590 teachers and staff tested positive and 804 were quarantined.

Since the school year began, there have been over 1,100 total coronavirus outbreaks in schools. Nearly 19,000 students have tested positive for the virus.

Have a health story? Or a health-related tip? Send it along to [email protected], on Twitter at @HaselhorstSarah or call 601-331-9307.

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