Local doctor talks about safety precautions as coronavirus cases rise

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WHLT) – The Mississippi Department of Health is reporting more than 7,000 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of cases since the start of the pandemic to nearly 600,000 cases of the virus.

These numbers reflect the latest increase in numbers from Wednesday December 22 to Sunday December 26 as we face a virus three times more contagious than Delta. A fate the doctors said they hadn’t originally foreseen.

“This is an emerging pandemic and we had to go through variants that we had not fully anticipated. To be honest, when we first talked about it in March 2020, we were just thinking “okay, we get through this rush and maybe we mask or test or vaccinate or find therapies and get out of it”. Honestly, we didn’t plan on as many variants as we do now. In retrospect, it makes sense, but at the time we didn’t think about it,” said Dr Rambod Rouhbakhsh, of the Hattiesburg Clinic.

Doctors said Omicron would wipe out Delta.

“Omicron will completely eliminate Delta because it will be a fitter virus. It will evolve to continue replicating in us and the more of us will be host to it, either because we are unvaccinated or under-vaccinated, either because our immunity has waned, the more likely it is to continue to replicate,” said Dr. Rambod Rouhbakhsh.

“Of course, vaccines will help everyone. If you are not vaccinated, get vaccinated, if you are vaccinated, get vaccinated. If you are boosted this brings the number two tool in our arsenal which is the masks. Masks work, we now have very good evidence that masks are extremely effective,” said Dr Rambod Rouhbakhsh.

The shelves for home COVID tests are empty. Pharmacists said they saw tests that were previously not purchased in large quantities and are now sold out due to the holiday season. Doctors say the home test is very effective at detecting the vaccine.

When it comes to masks, there is a hierarchy of masks with the N95 at the top, then the surgical mask, and finally the cloth masks. The doctors said that even if it was just the cloth mask, it would be more sufficient than no mask at all.

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Susan W. Lloyd