U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker says he has “recovered fully” from COVID-19 and has a “clean bill of health.” The senior Mississippi Republican announced the news in a tweet today, 12 days after he first confirmed his diagnosis on Aug. 19.
“I am looking forward to resuming my travel in the state this week,” Wicker tweeted, attaching a link to vaccines.gov, where people can find information on COVID-19 vaccines and locations. “I encourage all who have not yet received a COVID vaccine to talk to their doctor. Being fully vaccinated greatly reduced my risk of developing severe complications from the virus. Getting the shot is safe, easy and free, and it could save your life.”
After Alabama, Mississippi has the second-lowest vaccination rate in the nation, with 39% fully vaccinated and 44% having received at least one dose. Nationwide, 52% of Americans are fully vaccinated. Still, the state has witnessed an uptick in vaccinations since the delta variant surge began in earnest in July.
Mississippi reached a four-month high for vaccinations with 86,051 doses during the week of Aug. 15-21, but that fell to 75,549 for the week of Aug. 22-28. Last week’s drop marked the first decline in vaccinations since the week of June 27-July 3, when just 19,956 Mississippians received the shot.
Though COVID-19 vaccines prevent most infections, vaccinated people account for about 1% of new COVID-19 cases diagnosed in Mississippi in recent weeks, Mississippi State Department of Health data show. Still, vaccines prevent serious illness or death in the vast majority of cases.
Even as COVID-19 cases were already trending upward early last month due to the delta variant, Sen. Wicker pushed for an end to federal mask mandates for transportation. The pandemic, he claimed, was fading away.
“Americans who have recently set foot in an airport or a train station probably felt like they were stepping back in time. Although the pandemic is subsiding and masks are no longer required in most settings, those who wish to board a plane or a train are still being forced to wear masks—even if they are fully vaccinated,” the senator said in a statement on July 5.
In fact, the pandemic was not subsiding. In Mississippi, COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations had already been rising for several weeks by that point. Last October, Wicker drew criticism after photos showed him on a plane with his mask hanging under his chin instead of covering his nose and mouth.
Numerous studies have found that face masks, particularly N-95 or KN-95 masks, offer significant protection against COVID-19 transmission.