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In Mississippi, the Delta variant continues to sicken two vulnerable groups — pregnant women and children.

According to state health officials, eight pregnant women have died of COVID-19 complications in Mississippi since Aug. 1, The Clarion-Ledger reported.

Mississippi State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs said all the women were unvaccinated. Some of the babies were born prematurely and are alive, though he didn’t say how many.

“It is a tragic and difficult circumstance,” Dobbs said during a news conference. “The vaccine is very helpful and remarkably successful in preventing these outcomes in pregnant women.”

The COVID vaccine has been approved for pregnant women by the CDC and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Meanwhile, state health officials said Wednesday that a child under the age of 1 died of COVID recently — the fifth COVID-related child death this year and the seventh since the pandemic began.

Eighteen children were so sick with COVID on Wednesday they had to be hospitalized at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, which has the state’s only pediatric hospital, The Clarion-Ledger said.

The chair of the hospital’s Department of Pediatrics, Mary Taylor, lipitor or crestor recently said the number of children needing to be treated in the Intensive Care Unit has also increased. She said 7-10 kids were in the ICU now, compared to one or two last January, The Clarion-Ledger reported.

Since the start of the pandemic, more than 75,000 cases have been reported in children ages 17 and younger.

The Delta variant is infecting high numbers of unvaccinated people in the United States, including children, especially in places with low vaccination rates such as Mississippi.

Only about 38% of the state’s population is fully vaccinated, compared to about 53.4% of the nation’s population, according to the CDC.

The Mississippi State Department of Health says about 24% of residents ages 12-15 are fully vaccinated and about 28% of people ages 16-17 are fully vaccinated.

The start of in-class learning in public schools appears to have sped up the infections for children.

The state health department said more than 18,000 Mississippi students caught COVID-19 in the first month of the school year, according to Insider.

Insider said that many teachers would like Gov. Tate Reeves to issue a statewide mask mandate for schools, but he has not done so. Insider said Reeves office didn’t return calls for comment.

“There is no discussion around, at what point do we protect children over the economy,” Esther Newell, a teacher in Jackson, told Insider. “It seems like a question [Reeves] is successfully avoiding, and every level of it is concerning to me.”

Sources

The Clarion-Ledger: “7th Mississippi child dies of COVID, eight pregnant women lose lives to virus in a month.”

Mississippi State Department of Health: “Mississippi State Department of Health COVID-19 Vaccination Reporting.”

Insider: “Mississippi teachers beg for help after more than 18,000 students catch COVID-19 in one month: ‘At what point do we protect children over the economy?'”

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