Mississippi Reports First Infant COVID Fatality, 72 Fetal Deaths in Unvaccinated Women

The Mississippi State Department of Health has reported the first death of a baby in the state as a result of COVID. The death of the infant, who was less than 12 months old, brings the state's pediatric COVID death toll for the past six weeks to four.

This means more children died of COVID in Mississippi over the last six weeks than during the first 17 months of the pandemic. Three children under 18 died in that initial period. The state's total COVID death toll for people under 18 currently stands at seven.

The state also announced the number of fetal deaths in unvaccinated pregnant women suffering from COVID had reached 72, and that 8 pregnant women have died as a result of the virus.

In a press conference on Wednesday, state health officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said that 72 fetal deaths associated with unvaccinated pregnant women suffering from COVID had been identified, The Associated Press reported.

In addition to these 72 fetal deaths, which does not include miscarriages under 20 weeks, Dobbs said that eight pregnant women in the state had died as a result of COVID over the past four weeks.

"We do know that COVID is especially problematic and dangerous for pregnant women," Dobbs said. "It's been a real tragedy."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say that pregnant and recently pregnant women are at a higher risk of serious illness from COVID than women who are not pregnant. This increased risk includes the danger of adverse pregnancy outcomes.

The threat of COVID to pregnant women, their unborn children, and infants under six months old is currently being monitored by the CDC as part of its Surveillance for Emerging Threats to Mothers and Babies Network (SET-NET) program.​​

The CDC's advice for pregnant women is the same for all vulnerable people: get vaccinated, wear a face mask, maintain six feet social distancing, wash hands regularly, and monitor for symptoms.

"The overwhelming majority of cases and hospitalizations that we're seeing are sadly in unvaccinated individuals, and remember we have children less than the age of 12 that are not eligible for vaccination," Mississippi State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers said during the press conference, Mississippi Free Press reported.

"So it's going to be important for us going forward that we keep those children as safe as possible. Certainly vaccination of those adults and eligible members of the household is one of the best ways to keep children safe."

Mississippi is currently jointly tied with Wyoming and Alabama in terms of U.S states with the least fully vaccinated residents. In all three states 40 percent of the population has received two doses of a COVID vaccine, according to The New York Times COVID tracker.

COVID hospitalizations in the state remain high, with an average of around 1,500 Mississippians admitted per day. In terms of mortality, the state remains the second highest in the U.S, with an average of 42 deaths per day, which is around 1.4 deaths per 100,000 people.

Only Florida is ahead of Mississippi in terms of deaths from COVID, with an average of 344 Floridians dying as a result of the virus every day.

Even before the COVID pandemic, the CDC reported that Mississippi had the highest infant mortality rate of any U.S state, with 311 infants dying in the state in 2018 and 322 deaths in 2019.

Baby in Isolation
A stock image shows a baby in hospital. Mississippi has reported the first death of a child under 12 months and 72 fetal death cases iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty