This week marks the one-year anniversary of when the Mississippi State Department of Health reported the first positive case of COVID-19 in Tallahatchie County.
That was March 23, 2020, or almost two weeks after the state of Mississippi identified its first case on March 11.
Coincidentally, March 11, 2020, was also the date on which the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic.
First mention of the coronavirus in The Sun-Sentinel appeared on March 12, 2020, in the form of a small article about MSDH activating a COVID-19 telephone hotline to field and answer public questions about the virus.
The following week’s edition, dated March 19, 2020, featured a front-page lineup that was almost exclusively about COVID-19.
The banner headline read, “Locals scramble over COVID-19,” followed by the subhead, “Lives are altered as people try to hold coronavirus at bay.”
The first few paragraphs of that story are as follows:
“Tallahatchie General Hospital has stopped allowing visitors — one of many local counterpunches to the global coronavirus pandemic.
“As of Tuesday [March 17, 2020], according to the World Health Organization, COVID-19 had infected 184,976 persons in 159 countries, areas or territories, resulting in 7,529 deaths.
“The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 4,226 total cases and 75 deaths in the United States.
“The Mississippi State Department of Health said Tuesday that of 389 people tested for the virus in the Magnolia State, 21 had tested positive. No deaths had been reported, and Leflore (4) and Monroe (1) were the only northern Mississippi counties having any cases. The rest were divided among seven other counties in central and southern areas of the state.”
Look at how the numbers have changed just over one year later — as of Tuesday, March 23, 2021:
According to the World Health Organization, COVID-19 had infected 123,419,065 persons in 223 countries, areas or territories, resulting in 2,719,163 deaths.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Tuesday 29,708,385 total cases and 540,503 deaths in the United States.
MSDH reported Tuesday that of 2,585,239 people tested for the virus in the Magnolia State, 303,238 had tested positive, with 6,977 deaths.
As of Tuesday in Tallahatchie County, MSDH reported that 1,736 people have tested positive for the virus since the first local case on March 11, 2020. The Health Department on Tuesday reported the 40th local death since the first Tallahatchie COVID-19 fatality was reported April 17, 2020.
The availability of vaccines gives the world hope.
The World Health Organization reported Tuesday that a total of 397,950,709 vaccine doses have been administered worldwide and 225,962,060 persons have been vaccinated with at least one dose.
The CDC said Tuesday that 128 million vaccine doses have been administered in the United States.
In Mississippi Tuesday, the MSDH reported that 1,061,253 vaccine doses have been administered and that 690,647 people have received at least one dose. A total of 392,308 persons in the state were fully vaccinated.
In Tallahatchie County, MSDH noted Tuesday, a total of 3,721 vaccine does have been administered. Locally, 2,636 residents (19% of the total population) have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine while 1,135 (8% of the total population) are fully vaccinated.
One statistic that some say too often goes unreported is the number of COVID-19 patients who fought, survived and have recovered from the virus.
According to the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine Coronavirus Research Center, as of 2:28 p.m. Tuesday, 70,324,973 people worldwide have beaten the novel coronavirus.
However, The Atlantic reports that because the term “recovery” has no standard definition/criteria among states, the number of people in the U.S. who have recovered from COVID-19 “cannot reasonably be inferred.” The CDC has not weighed in on the matter. Some states, including large ones like California and Florida, have not reported that data at all. Six states that used to report recovery stats have now stopped due, they say, to difficulties collecting reliable data.
MSDH reported Tuesday that a total of 290,537 of the Mississippians who tested positive for COVID-19 are presumed to have recovered.
The statistics are constantly changing, minute to minute.
Many of us — myself and most of my immediate family included — have battled COVID-19 over the past year. The vast majority of us have lived to tell the tale.
Yet, so many families have lost loved ones. Many of us know some who have faced this tragedy. A digit on a stat sheet is so inadequate.
A year later, we are smarter and have more tools in our tool belt, but COVID-19 and variants continue to endanger lives. It is wise to get vaccinated and consider wearing a face mask in certain situations.
Surely by this time next year, the prevailing statistics will paint a much brighter picture of the world’s progress against this terrible scourge.