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8 pregnant women in Mississippi have died from COVID-19 in past several weeks, doctor says

All of the women were reportedly unvaccinated.

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The Mississippi State Department of Health has received reports of eight pregnant women dying from COVID-19 in the past several weeks, according to State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs.

Dobbs said all of the women were unvaccinated. The babies were born premature, but are alive, Dobbs said.

"COVID is especially problematic and dangerous for pregnant women. We also know it can be deadly for the baby in the womb," Dobbs said. "With COVID, we've seen a doubling of the rate of fetal demise, or the death of the baby in the womb after 20 weeks. It's been a real tragedy."

Dobbs said the COVID-19 vaccines are "remarkably" effective in preventing deaths in pregnant women and their unborn babies. The state health department is working to get the message to pregnant women that the vaccine is safe and available to protect "the most vulnerable in our community."

Health officials added 1,934 new COVID-19 cases to Mississippi's tally and 102 additional deaths on Wednesday. Dobbs said nearly half of Mississippians have received at least one dose.

State epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers said, after a surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, the number of deaths lags behind.

"In August, over 93,000 cases to date. Some of the cases reported now still have deaths from that August timeframe, so it continues to increase," Byers said.

Byers said there has also been a decrease in the number of students and teachers who are on quarantine after coming in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.