“When and where can I get vaccinated to protect me from coronavirus?”
That is the question millions of Mississippians are asking.
The vaccine whiplash
Last Tuesday, Jan. 12, Governor Tate Reeves announced that COVID-19 vaccine was, as of that date, available to people over age 65, those with certain health conditions, healthcare workers, etc.
Then, the very next day, Wednesday, Jan. 13, the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH), announced that no more vaccine was available. The announcement said appointments for all available vaccine had been booked. MSDH said that more vaccine would be available in mid-February, about one month in the future. Never doubt that MSDH is directly, closely supervised by Reeves.
Reeves said Tuesday, Jan.19, that 114,947 doses of the coronavirus vaccine had been administered as of last Friday.
Mississippi has a population of about three-million. Thus, a little under four percent of Mississippians have been vaccinated.
How are we doing under Reeves’ guidance?
As of yesterday, 5,638 Mississippians have died of coronavirus. The state has had 1,894 COVID-19 deaths per million population – the fifth highest in the U.S.
The few states with higher death rates than Mississippi are more crowded, have far higher population density, which is one of the main risk factors in any epidemic.
New Jersey has 1,210 people per square mile; Rhode Island has 1,006; Massachusetts has 840 per square mile. They have COVID death rates a little higher than that of Mississippi.
However, Mississippi has only 64 people per square mile.
One would think that social distancing would be inevitable with population density that low.
Inconsistent leadership, finger pointing hinder Mississippi vaccines
A northeast Mississippi man told us Tuesday night that he had finally been able to get an appointment for a vaccination. Guess where? In Natchez. This senior citizen will have to drive 288 miles each way, a third of it over two-lane roads, to get his vaccination. The man will then have to repeat the 576-mile round trip in a few weeks to get his second shot.
The sad fact is that the governor’s leadership throughout the COVID crisis has been inconsistent, confusing and clumsy. He has fumbled again and again and now, with the distribution of vaccine, fumbled still again.
The state set up a website through which people could supposedly schedule vaccinations. The system was overwhelmed and crashed within days. Reeves seemed genuinely surprised that so many people wanted to be vaccinated. Duh!
Rather than stepping up to protect Mississippians, Reeves prefers to cast broad aspersions upon Mississippi hospitals. He has compounded his fumbling by blaming over-worked hospitals, lying that the hospitals were failing to administer the vaccine that had been distributed to them.
It isn’t true and Reeves knows it. To say he is merely misinformed would be too kind.
What’s going on here?
Reeves is notorious for trying to punish those who oppose him. Does anyone believe it is coincidental that many Mississippi hospitals and hospital groups supported Tater’s opponents in the 2019 governor’s race?
Hospitals around Mississippi scheduled patients for COVID vaccines based on supplies MSDH told them would be shipped. Some hospitals did not receive the amount of vaccine MSDH had told them to expect. Those hospitals then had to cancel vaccine appointments for patients already scheduled to receive shots. Not surprisingly, this created disappointment and anger among patients, some of it directed on social media toward hospitals and hospital staff.
Governor Reeves might find it a valuable character-building experience to work a few shifts as a nurse’s aide in a Mississippi hospital. There are many that could use the help; many where the staff is bone-tired and demoralized, overwhelmed with COVID patients, dying alone and isolated from loved ones.
If it were “only politics,” perhaps Reeves could be forgiven his inept performance during the pandemic.
But, it is “only” the lives of Mississippians.
-JWSCovid 19 vaccine, Governor Tate Reeves, Mississippi hospitals, MS Department of Health, MS politics, politics