Mississippi hits single-day high of new coronavirus case

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JACKSON, Miss. (AP) – Mississippi reported more than 3,000 new coronavirus cases Wednesday, a single-day high in the state.

The state hit the new record after already having several days in December with more than 2,000 new cases. The state epidemiologist, Dr. Paul Byers, urged people to avoid large social gatherings for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

“We are in, still, the worst time that we have seen so far in this pandemic,” Byers said during an online news conference. “We are not seeing any signs, really, that things are slowing down. We are still in the middle of the holidays. I would encourage everybody – please, for New Year’s, keep it small, keep it nuclear.”

Byers said that by Wednesday, Mississippi had distributed about 120,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, roughly 90% of what the state has received.

“We’re working on getting those other doses out the door, even as we speak,” Byers said.

At least 17,000 vaccinations have been administered, he said.

The department announced Wednesday that it is working with the University of Mississippi Medical Center to open drive-thru sites to give COVID-19 vaccinations to health care workers starting Monday. Appointments are required, and the department’s website shows which counties will have sites open on certain days.

The state is following recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in setting priorities for the order of vaccinating people. Health care workers and residents and staff of long-term care facilities are first. The state is coordinating with pharmacy chain stores Walgreens and CVS to vaccinate people in long-term care facilities.

Mississippi has about 200,000 health care workers and about 60,000 residents and staff in long-term care facilities.

“I would love to see … every health care worker in Mississippi to have that opportunity to get the COVID vaccine during the month of January,” said Jim Craig, the state Health Department’s director of health protection.

The state Health Department reported Wednesday that Mississippi had 3,023 new confirmed cases of the virus as of Tuesday evening. The department also reported 29 new deaths, saying that they occurred between Dec. 22 and Tuesday. The state has reported 213,055 cases of the virus and 4,747 deaths from it since the start of the pandemic.

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Follow AP coverage of the pandemic at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.

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