Mississippi Reports 111 COVID-19 Deaths, Pandemic Toll Rises to 8,158

Hospital beds in a tent hospital
Hospital beds line the walls inside the Samaritan's Purse field hospital at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. At least 8,158 Mississippians were confirmed to have died of COVID-19 since the pandemic began as of Aug. 24, 2021.

At least 8,158 Mississippians have died of COVID-19 since the novel coronavirus arrived in the Magnolia State, the State Department of Health revealed today as it reported 111 additional deaths—the most for a single day in the pandemic so far. The prior high for deaths reported in a single day occurred on Jan. 12, 2021, when MSDH reported 98 cases in a single day during the winter surge.

Like most daily reports, today’s COVID-19 numbers includes deaths from recent days and weeks. MSDH said 41 of the deaths reported today occurred between Aug. 19 and Aug. 23 while 70 occured between June 25 and Aug. 20. But because today’s report is consistent with past practices, it reflects the continually mounting toll of the latest pandemic wave. When Mississippi reported 98 deaths on Jan. 12, MSDH said at the time that about half of those deaths had occurred a week earlier.

Today, the Mississippi State Department of Health confirmed another 3,291 positive cases of COVID-19. The state officially surpassed 7,000 confirmed COVID-19 deaths in March, but incidences had fallen as the pandemic waned until the arrival of the delta variant pushed daily cases and hospitalizations to new all-time highs.

The actual death count, however, is almost certainly thousands higher than the 8,158 now confirmed; MSDH has recorded at least 11,279 excess deaths since spring 2020.

“Excess deaths” measures how many more people have died from all causes in a year compared to the average number of yearly deaths in recent years. In a September 2020 press conference, Mississippi State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs, the top public-health official, said MSDH was “almost certainly undercounting” deaths due to “conservative” counting procedures.

Between 2017 and 2019, an average of 32,526 Mississippians died each year. That number rose to 40,203 in 2020, amounting to 7,677 excess deaths. Prior, the worst year for excess deaths in the state’s recorded history had been 1918, when that figure rose 7,312 during the Great Influenza pandemic that year. 

In the first eight months of 2021 so far, 22,053 Mississippians have died compared to an average 18,451 during an equivalent period during the three years preceding the pandemic. That brings this year’s excess death toll so far to 3,602 lives. Currently available death data only go to July 24, 2021, and does not yet include any deaths from this month.

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