Mayor Toby Barker’s weekly conference calls with local and state health officials continue to bring reasons for experts to be optimistic in the fight against COVID-19, as case and hospitalization numbers in the Hattiesburg area continue to decrease week by week.
As of Oct. 6, Forrest General and Merit Health Wesley housed 35 patients who were confirmed COVID-positive; of those, 11 were in the Intensive Care Unit. Four patients in the ICU were on ventilators.
Those numbers are drastically down since the end of July and the beginning of August, when the peak number of 180 patients were hospitalized.
“Our numbers continue to get better, and as we talk to our healthcare providers … everyone is sounding much more upbeat,” Barker said in an Oct. 6 video address. “(There’s) more bed capacity at both our hospitals because of this, and we’re continuing to see lower testing numbers, which should continue to drive down the hospitalization and ICU numbers.”
Of the 35 patients in the hospital, only two were fully vaccinated and one patient in the ICU was fully vaccinated. Of the four on ventilators, one was fully vaccinated.
Forrest County officials reported two new deaths since Oct. 1, bringing that county’s total number of deaths to 245 since March 2020. Lamar County reported no new deaths, with a total of 134.
There were 14 new cases in Forrest County as of Oct. 6 and eight new cases in Lamar County as of that date.
The “inside 14-day” number, which shows the number of individuals who have received a positive diagnosis over the past two weeks, was 238 in Forrest County and 223 in Lamar County, for a total of 461 in the Hattiesburg metropolitan area.
Those numbers are significantly down since the week before Barker’s latest address. At that time, Forrest County’s inside 14-day number was 356 and Lamar County’s was 321, for a total of 677 in the metropolitan area.
“That gives us an idea of how many active cases we have in our community,” Barker said. “We finally now are under 500 for the first time in a long time.
“We’re seeing significant decreases in this inside 14-day number, which bodes well for the resulting hospitalizations that could come out of new infections.”
Although ICU numbers are up very slightly from the week before, when there were nine patients in that unit, hospitalizations are down by five since that time.
Vaccination numbers as of Oct. 6 are as follows:
- Forrest County: 26,898 residents, or 36 percent, were fully vaccinated. Five percent had their first dose, which was up 162 residents since the Friday before Barker’s address.
- Lamar County: 33,054 residents, or 52 percent, were fully vaccinated. Six percent, or 36,583 residents, had their first dose, which was up 119 since the Friday before Barker’s address.
Officials continue to push the “Trust Your Doc, Get Your Shot” initiative, which encourages residents to get vaccinated. The campaign, which can be found online at www.getyourshothburg.com, features several Hattiesburg residents who speak about the importance of receiving a vaccine, and offers information on how and where to get the shots.
The latest feature on the website is Jerry DeFatta, a Petal resident who serves on the Petal School District Board of Trustees and the Southern Miss Alumni Association.
“Be like Jerry DeFatta (and get your vaccination),” Barker said.