All people 50 years and older are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in Mississippi.

In a Thursday press release, the Mississippi State Department of Health said that 94% of COVID-19 related deaths and 80% of COVID-19 related hospitalizations in Mississippi have been among those 50 years and older.

Some people 50 years or older have already received the vaccine in Mississippi, because they fell into at least one of the groups already eligible for the vaccine.

K-12 school employees, preschool or childcare employees, first responders, health care personnel, people with certain medical conditions and people who are at least 65 years old have been eligible for COVID-19 vaccination in the state.

“So far, about 350,000 persons aged 50 years and older have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine in the state,” said Dr. Paul Byers, the state epidemiologist, in a press release. “We are expanding our eligibility to this age group to increase the access to vaccination in this vulnerable population and prevent hospitalizations and deaths.”

Earlier this week, Gov. Tate Reeves announced that the county mask mandates in Mississippi would be lifted and businesses would be allowed to operate at full capacity starting on Wednesday, March 3. Mayor Percy Bland said, though, that he is keeping the City of Meridian's mask mandate until it expires at the end of the month, at which time he will review it. 

COVID-19 case and death numbers

Mississippi reported on Friday 591 new cases of the coronavirus and 19 additional COVID-19 related deaths, bringing the state’s totals to 296,745 cases and 6,783 deaths.

Lauderdale County reported nine new cases of COVID-19 and no additional COVID-19 related deaths on Friday, bringing the county’s totals to 6,856 cases and 227 deaths.

Mississippi has been vaccinating its residents. The Mississippi State Department of Health reported on Thursday that 690,874 total doses of COVID-19 vaccine had been administered in Mississippi. 20,252 total doses of COVID-19 vaccine had been administered to Lauderdale County residents. These numbers include both first and second doses.

COVID-19 case and death numbers for local counties are listed below.

Clarke County: six new cases; 1,702 total cases since March 2020. One additional death, which occurred between Dec. 12 and Feb. 25 and was identified from death certificate reports; 73 total deaths since March 2020.

Newton County: ten new cases; 2,322 total cases. No additional deaths; 52 total deaths since March 2020.

Kemper County: four new cases; 908 total cases. No additional deaths; 23 total deaths since March 2020.

Neshoba County: 14 new cases; 3,836 total cases. No additional deaths; 170 total deaths since March 2020.

MSDH presumed that 278,162 people in Mississippi had recovered from COVID-19 as of March 1. The department also reported that there are 52 ongoing outbreaks of COVID-19 in long-term-care facilities.

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