Mississippi monitoring influx of COVID-19 patients

Published: Sep. 1, 2021 at 9:10 PM CDT
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DESOTO COUNTY, Miss. (WMC) - Nearly 100 people are sitting in emergency rooms across Mississippi waiting for an ICU bed that isn’t available.

State health officials said some hospitalization numbers due to COVID-19 have stabilized, but ICU beds remain scarce.

Now, 61 hospitals across Mississippi have requested extra help staffing beds as more patients are admitted to the hospital. It’s a surge in part due to rising COVID-19 numbers throughout the late summer.

“Of the currently requested 1,138 staff, just over 74 percent have been deployed to hospitals,” said Jim Craig, Mississippi Department of Health director of health protection.

Craig said more staff is being sent to hospitals every day and he’s requested an extension of several federal teams helping at patient bedsides, including a team at North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo.

Wednesday morning, 13 ICU beds were available but 93 patients were waiting on one.

“With patients waiting on ICU beds, our ICU bed availability is effectively zero in the state,” Craig said.

DeSoto County requested a field hospital to open more beds. On Wednesday, county supervisors said instead of a field hospital, more staff was sent to county hospitals.

“They wanted to make sure they had fully utilized the brick and mortar spaces they had for beds and ICU beds with this staffing first. I think that’s really the focus now,” Craig said.

The Mississippi Department of Heath showed some optimism. Acute care bed usage was stabilizing along with daily case totals. The New York Times reports Mississippi daily case counts dropped 16 percent, but still, 2,939 cases were reported on Wednesday and more than 1,500 people are in the hospital with COVID-19.

“It’s not at a point where anyone should feel complacent about where we are,” said Mississippi Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs. “These cases are continuing to drive hospitalizations. We’re going to continue to have pressure on the healthcare system. It’s better than the option, but it’s far too high.”

In August, Mississippi reported more than 85,000 COVID-19 cases and nearly 900 people died of the virus. Now, nearly 90 percent of all hospitalizations and deaths in the state are in the unvaccinated.

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