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Mississippi Health Official Has a Stark Holiday Warning

Have big Thanksgiving dinners with loved ones, 'and then death,' Dobbs says amid COVID surge
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 17, 2020 8:37 AM CST

(Newser) – Mississippi's top health official delivered dire news last week about the state's COVID-19 status, noting the "severe surge" that's been stressing its health care system, with very few beds left in ICUs around the state. "Our fall surge is going in very much the wrong direction over the last week or so," State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said during a virtual Mississippi State Medical Association meeting on Thursday, per the Clarion-Ledger. In the wake of that news, Dobbs and other health officials are also looking with a wary eye toward Thanksgiving weekend, pleading with the public to keep their gatherings tiny—read: nuclear family members only—and warning that Christmas may not be so merry if they don't. "We know this is the perfect milieu, having young folks and old folks and folks with chronic illness around the table—and then death," he said on the video call, per the Mississippi Free Press.

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MSMA President Dr. Mark Horne concurred, noting that "you're going to say hi [to Mamaw] at Thanksgiving, it's so nice to see you, and you're either going to be visiting her by Facetime in the ICU or planning a small funeral by Christmas." Mississippi State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers also warned people to stay away from in-person Black Friday events, noting they would be a "disaster for potential transmission." For those who choose to have even small Thanksgiving get-togethers, Dobbs implores them to adhere to social distancing and gather outdoors, if possible. If anyone does get sick, "our resources are tapped out," he said Friday, per WLBT. As for the fatality numbers? "We've become a little bit numb to the deaths," he noted in the Zoom call. "And it's coming for a lot of people." (Zoom has a surprise that could make Thanksgiving more festive this year.)

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