DESOTO COUNTY, Miss. (WMC) - COVID-19 patients currently fill 40% of Mississippi’s ICU beds, according to State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs.
“We are not trying to induce panic. We are trying to make sure that there is a healthy respect throughout this state for this deadly virus,” said Governor Tate Reeves during a press conference Thursday.
Reeves wants to make it clear.
It’s not just the nearly 1,000 new COVID-19 cases reported in a single day Thursday.
It’s also the effect that it’s having on the state’s healthcare system.
Dr. LouAnn Woodward, Vice-Chancellor and Dean of Mississippi’s only academic medical center, wrote an eye-opening tweet Thursday.
She said in part, “The COVID crisis in Mississippi is worsening. The outlook for hospitals is grim. Wear a damn mask.”
Dr. Allan Jones, Assistant Vice-Chancellor for Clinical Affairs at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, agrees with his colleague’s push for wearing masks.
“The healthcare system, the hospital system in Mississippi is certainly under significant stress right now and in pockets overwhelmed,” said Jones.
He says wearing masks can play a significant role in slowing the spread of the virus and relieving hospitals.
According to the state’s health officer Thomas Dobbs, eight of the state hospitals have zero ICU beds available.
There are 975 COVID-19 positive patients currently hospitalized and there’s a slight drop of 278 people in ICU.
Dr. Jones says during peak times, hospitals in Central Mississippi have had to send patients to North Mississippi hospitals for care.
He says the workload is taking its toll on medical staff.
“You’re working with constraints that you normally shouldn’t have to think about. You’re just mentally and emotionally exhausting to physicians and nurses. It’s not the way you would want to work,” said Jones.
Reeves implemented mask mandates in 23 counties in Mississippi including Tate, Panola and DeSoto counties.