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The fight against COVID-19 continues and in Mississippi, the Delta Variant has taken hold of the state’s young demographic with over 5000 students now testing positive with the highly transmissible strain.

Some young teens are even dying as a result. Raleigh Junior High student Mkayla Robinson passed away on August 14, just hours before she tested positive for the virus, MADAMENOIRE previously reported. The young girl was entering the 8th-grade.

According to the Mississippi State Department of Health, at least 5,995 students have tested positive for COVID-19 in the last two weeks. This significantly tops the state’s numbers compared to August of last year where there were only 199 reported COVID cases among students. The total did not surpass 5,000 until the end of the semester in December of 2020.

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According to The Mississippi Free Press last week 803 schools reported “4,521 positive cases among students.” Among those confirmed were 1496 cases recorded comprised of only teachers and educational staff. With the virus causing deaths among two teenagers since late July, parents are now calling for Gov. Tate Reeves to issue statewide mask mandates for students in order to curb the spread.

However, the governor has seemingly downplayed the virus and the uptick in teen-related cases, stating the numbers are too low to push the mandate forward.

“Does it happen from time to time? Sure it does. I believe we have had one fatality of an individual, maybe it could’ve been two—I think there’s three under the age of 18 at this time? Two?” the governor said at a press conference on August 13. Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs, who was also in attendance shook her head in response to Reeves and replied, “Four so far and one this summer.”

On July 21, the CDC officially announced that youths between the ages of 12-18 could receive the vaccine, but vaccination rates among the group remain low. According to the Department of Health, “nineteen percent of those aged 12-18 are fully vaccinated, up from 14.9 percent on July 21″, ABC7 noted.

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