JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Mississippi has surpassed New Jersey as the state with the highest rate of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S., with roughly 1 of every 320 Mississippians having succumbed to the coronavirus.
The state’s top health official on Thursday warned that more deaths will come.
"We’re recording well over 2,500 (cases) a day, in recent days, far more than we’d like to see," said State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs. "A lot of that’s going to translate into the tragedy."
Since the start of the pandemic, at least 9,165 people in Mississippi have died of the virus. The state has a population of roughly 3 million and has had one of the worst vaccination rates in the country.
New Jersey was throttled in the spring of 2020 at the start of the pandemic, long before vaccines were available.
Of specific concern during the delta variant surge in Mississippi have been pregnant mothers, Dobbs said. Over the course of the pandemic, 15 pregnant women in Mississippi have died of coronavirus, according to the Department of Health. Eight of those deaths occurred between July 25 and Sept. 16.
The age range of the mothers who died was between 23 and 40, with the median age being 30. Dobbs said 60% were Black. None of the women were fully vaccinated. One woman had received her first shot.
As for health conditions, "some were overweight, but so are the majority of Mississippians, so I don’t think that that’s much of a surprise," Dobbs said.