Deaths attributed to COVID-19 in Alcorn County have topped 70 with three more added to the toll this week.

On Monday, the Mississippi State Department of Health reported two Alcorn County deaths that occurred between April 30 and May 14. On Tuesday, MSDH reported one Alcorn County death that occurred sometime between March 19 and May 10 as identified from a death certificate, bringing the county total to 71.

In his latest weekly talk with the Mississippi State Medical Association, State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs said people need to realize that COVID cases will continue to occur.

“We’re going to have personal tragedy that’s avoidable,” said Dobbs. “It breaks my heart. It’s about you and your family right now. It’s about your husband who thinks he’s in good shape, but he’s still high-risk because he’s 50.”

Dobbs is particularly asking members of the medical community to educate pastors about the need for vaccination.

“For the docs,” he said, “it’s paramount for us to be voices of science and reason, even if it makes us uncomfortable in spheres of influence in which we don’t normally talk about science and reason.”

And he encourages church leaders to recognize their responsibility.

“If you are a pastor of a flock, it’s your job to take care of the flock, not succumb to the wolf because he’s got a silver tongue,” said Dobbs.

The vaccine “is a miraculous way to get out of the pandemic,” he said. “That we’re ignoring it in large measure is really phenomenal.”

The number fully vaccinated in Alcorn County stands at 22 percent, unchanged from last week.

“There are still a lot of people in Mississippi who are not immune,” said Dobbs.

The CDC’s new mask guidance, with clearance given for many vaccinated people to go without a mask, was a hot topic of the forum.

“I think the key take-home of that is really the opposite,” said State Epidemiologist Paul Byers. “If you are unvaccinated, there’s still going to be those situations where it’s going to be appropriate to wear a mask to prevent you from transmitting to other folks.”

Dobbs said people who are immunocompromised generally need to continue to wear a mask and avoid large gatherings because the vaccine may not provide them the same level of protection.

The doctor said he is expecting to see “a little bump” in COVID activity in the near future. Magnolia Regional Health Center had nine hospitalized for treatment of COVID-19 as of Wednesday afternoon, down slightly after hovering at 11 for several days.

The county had 16 cases via suspected community transmission for the week of May 2 to May 8, down from 33 the previous week. The county had a positive test rate of 9.1 percent for April 21 to May 4, down from 9.6 percent in the prior frame.

Tishomingo and Prentiss counties each had nine new cases for the week, each rising from seven. Tippah County held steady with four new cases. Positive test rates were 1.1 percent in Tishomingo, 6.8 percent in Prentiss and 3.2 percent in Tippah.

For McNairy County, the Tennessee Department of Health reported an average of 2.9 new cases per day from May 5 to May 18, down from 3.1 cases per day in the prior period. The county had a positive rate of 1.9 percent over the last seven days.

Staff Writer

Jebb Johnston is a 1991 Alcorn Central High School graduate and a 1995 Ole Miss journalism graduate. His primary beats are city and county government.

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