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Fauci says Mississippians may want to consider wearing masks even if fully vaccinated

Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health explains tactics to address vaccine...
Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health explains tactics to address vaccine expiration.
Published: Jul. 4, 2021 at 4:09 PM EDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The nation’s top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci says people in Mississippi may want to “go the extra mile” and wear a mask again as they venture out to some places, even if they are fully vaccinated.

Fauci says that’s because of the state’s low vaccination rate and growing concerns about the Delta variant.

As Americans celebrate freedom this Fourth of July weekend, parts of the country continue fighting to be free from the coronavirus.

While the Mid-South has reopened and new infections are down dramatically compared to last year, doctors say many people remain at risk.

Baptist Memorial infectious disease specialist Dr. Steve Threlkeld says the Delta variant is far more transmissible than previous strains.

“There are still a lot of people who are in fact unprotected and this virus getting here in larger numbers is going to hunt down those people who are unprotected and unvaccinated in much more efficient and rapid fashion,” said Threlkeld.

Compared to other parts of the country, all three Mid-South states have low vaccination rates with Mississippi dead last among all 50 states.

While all three vaccines in the U.S. offer protection against the Delta variant, Dr. Anthony Fauci said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday that even fully vaccinated people who live in areas with low vaccination rates like Mississippi may need to take extra precautions like wearing a mask when gathering with others.

“You might want to go the extra step and say that when I’m in that area, where there’s a considerable degree of viral circulation, I might want to go the extra mile to ensure that I get the extra added layer of protection, even though the vaccines themselves are highly effective,” Fauci said.

In Arkansas, health leaders say their hospitals are seeing more patients infected with the Delta variant, especially the young and unvaccinated. Despite that, Governor Asa Hutchinson says he doesn’t think his state will see a third surge.

“We’ll wait and see. I don’t think so,” said Hutchinson. “I think our vaccination rate is sufficient that we can avoid the surge in hospitalizations that puts us in jeopardy but that remains to be seen.”

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