Some news reports that Mississippi has moved into the first position nationally in COVID deaths per million population may be premature, but not by much.
Based on data available at midnight last night, Mississippi appears to have had 2,864 COVID deaths for each million of population, while New Jersey appears to still have a slight “lead” with 2,896 COVID deaths per million.
Mississippi blew past New York, now with 2,713 deaths per million, in August.
We are dealing here with total COVID deaths since reporting began on those numbers a year and a half ago. It is generally agreed that the first COVID death in the U.S. occurred in Santa Clara County, California on Feb. 6, 2020.
Reporting on the number of COVID deaths per million population has been a little dicey during the last month for two reasons:
- Some reporting organizations have been ahead of others when updating state population figures as reported by the 2020 U.S. Census.
- Although the integrity of reporting by some state health departments is suspect (Missouri, for example), numbers do vary in all 50 states because of honest delays and errors in reporting. Most state health departments have been quick to correct reporting errors when discovered.
We are aware of no serious challenges to the honesty of COVID statistic reporting by the Mississippi State Department of Health. While the conflicts between State Health Director Dr. Thomas Dobbs and Governor Tate Reeves have been apparent to all, those differences have had to do with policy and message, mainly Reeves not taking COVID as seriously as Dobbs and other public health professionals. For his own reasons, Reeves continues to downplay the seriousness of the COVID epidemic in Mississippi. Nevertheless, no one, not even Reeves or the plentiful anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers in Mississippi, has challenged the integrity of the overworked Dobbs or the numbers reported by MSDH.
There was a minor scandal reported Tuesday, August 31, in neighboring Tennessee, where that state’s health department admitted it had under-reported COVID hospitalizations by more than 20 percent.
However, as the coronavirus epidemic in Mississippi has gone from bad to worse to a little better to much worse during recent weeks, MSDH statistics have continued to be above board and trustworthy.
During the early days of the pandemic New York state appeared to have the most out-of-control situation and it received a lot of national news attention simply because it is New York, the home base of the national news organizations and has a population of over 20-million. For a while early in 2020 the state of Washington seemed to be the hot spot. In recent weeks, more attention has been focused on Texas (population 29,183,290) and Florida (population 21,538,187), but both lag far behind Mississippi in deaths per million. Florida has had 2,065 COVID deaths per million and Texas is lower with 1,974 deaths per million, compared to Mississippi’s 2,864 deaths per million.
On the other hand, throughout the recent 18 months, Mississippi has steadily progressed (or should we say regressed) to finally become the nation’s hot spot for COVID cases and deaths.
Mississippi actually lost about 6,000 in population between 2010 and 2020. Yet its COVID cases and deaths as a percentage of the state’s population continue to grow.
The failures of state leaders over many decades to build a viable public health system in the state have yielded their bitter fruit.
Within recent weeks, the Federal government has put millions of dollars worth of medical resources into Mississippi to try relieve the state’s own inadequate and underfunded health services.
A big team of medical workers from the Federal Emergency Management Agency is working now at the Tupelo hospital, and other Federal doctors and nurses are working elsewhere in the state. Yesterday a large tent, paid for with Federal dollars, was erected for COVID testing on the parking lot of Baptist Memorial Hospital in New Albany.
Will Mississippi pass New Jersey to become number one in the country in COVID deaths per million population? It could happen within days.
Yesterday New Jersey had 20 COVID deaths spread over a population of 9,288,994. Mississippi had 81 COVID deaths yesterday, but a population of only 2,963,914, just 32 percent of New Jersey’s.
Given the dynamics of those ratios, Mississippi could be solidly and sadly in the number one spot in the nation very quickly. Labor Day weekend starts tomorrow and could put poor Mississippi “over the top.”
What is the problem, Mississippi?: Mississippi’s COVID crisis is not a “black” or “white” problem. It’s a “red” or “blue” problem.COVID deaths per million, Covid-19 coronavirus, Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH), MS politics, New Albany MS, Northeast Mississippi news