‘It’s not a slope, it’s a cliff’: MSDH issues order to prioritize patient care, delay elective procedures

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Published: Jul. 28, 2021 at 1:29 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 28, 2021 at 3:02 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The Mississippi State Department of Health has issued a new order to prioritize patient care amid the surge of new COVID-19 cases statewide.

Senior Deputy and Director of Health Protection Jim Craig said in a press conference Wednesday that “all hospitals will participate in the Mississippi COVID-19 System of Care Plan effective Thursday, July 29 until August 15.”

The Mississippi COVID-19 System of Care Plan prioritizes all Mississippi hospitals’ inpatient hospital beds and other resources for COVID-19 patients who require admission during the COVID-19 crisis.

The order also delays all elective procedures that require overnight hospitalization so the hospital can use all available resources to focus on COVID-19 patients.

As of Tuesday night, Craig said 28 Mississippi hospitals had no available ICU beds.

Health experts say the number of cases, death, hospitalizations, and outbreaks in long-term care facilities are rising and not slowing down.

“It’s a pretty astounding increase that we see at the moment, and we’re really not seeing this level off at this point,” Byers said. “It’s not a slope, it’s a cliff and we have no expectation of it slowing down anytime soon.”

State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs says over 90% of the cases right now are from the delta variant strain of COVID-19.

From June 30-July 13, we had a total of 5,155 cases compared to 12,453 cases from July 14-27.

“We’re seeing the most rapid increase in cases and hospitalizations, and we have a shortage of staff, especially nurses,” Dobbs said. “In many ways, we have absolutely worn out our health professionals because it’s exhausting.”

Across the nation, 49% of Americans are fully vaccinated compared to 34% of Mississippians.

“We have gotten ourselves into this mess together, and we’ve got to get ourselves out together,” Dobbs said.

Wednesday, MSDH also issued an alert updating its guidance on mask use in public indoor settings.

The health department said Mississippi is experiencing high levels of transmission of COVID-19, with increased cases, hospitalizations, and numerous outbreaks in multiple settings, including faith-based gatherings, funerals, social events, and long-term care settings.

Mississippi State Health Department recommends the following steps for all Mississippians to control the spread of COVID-19:

  • Get a COVID-19 vaccination if you are eligible.
  • MSDH recommends everyone (including those who are fully vaccinated) wear a mask in public indoor settings
  • If you test positive for COVID-19, even if fully vaccinated, you should isolate for at least ten days from the beginning of your symptoms or from your test date if you have no symptoms.
  • If you are exposed to someone with COVID-19, you should get tested 3-5 days following exposure. If you are not fully vaccinated, you should quarantine for at least ten days after exposure (fully vaccinated persons do not have to quarantine after exposure but should get tested).
  • If you are 65 years of age or older, you should avoid all indoor mass gatherings, even if you have been vaccinated.
  • If you have a chronic medical condition, you should avoid all indoor mass gatherings, even if you have been vaccinated.

MSDH says the Delta variant is the predominant strain in Mississippi accounting for an estimated 93% of cases in the state.

The Delta variant is much more contagious and spreads twice as easily compared to other strains.

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