JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi's top public health official said Monday that as COVID-19 cases continue to surge with the highly contagious delta variant, no intensive care beds were available in 35 of the state's top-level hospitals.
Dr. Thomas Dobbs, the state health officer, also said more than 200 people were waiting in hospital emergency rooms to be admitted, and the problem will grow worse in coming days. The wait times affect not only people with COVID-19 but also those with other health conditions.
The state Health Department said Monday that more than 6,900 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Mississippi from Friday through Sunday.
“Keep in mind — this will translate into around 500 new hospitalizations in coming days," Dobbs wrote on Twitter.
He said the intensive care units were full in Level 1, 2 and 3 hospitals in the state's acute care systems. Those include the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson; North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo; Forrest General Hospital in Hattiesburg; Memorial Hospital in Gulfport and Singing River Health System in Pascagoula.
Lee Bond, chief executive officer of Singing River Health System, said in a statement Thursday that Mississippi is experiencing a “hellacious wave” of COVID-19 cases that are stretching hospitals' resources and causing extreme stress for health care workers.
“Our situation is indescribable, as we bear witness to both the best and worst in people,” Bond wrote. “Some of us will forever have the traumatic images of human suffering burned into our minds while fighting to save lives alongside one another.”
Mississippi has one of the lowest COVID-19 vaccination rates in the nation. As of Friday, the state Health Department said 35% of Mississippi residents were fully vaccinated, compared to 50% nationally.
“It was recently said nationally that the Delta variant was becoming a ‘pandemic of the unvaccinated,’” Republican Gov. Tate Reeves wrote Monday on Twitter. “The most recent data from Mississippi suggest the same. Talk to your doctor. Assess the risk. Do the right thing for you. Do the right thing for your family.”
Mississippi schools have been starting classes in recent weeks, some with mask mandates and some without.
The state has confirmed more than 365,000 cases of COVID-19 and about 7,650 coronavirus-related deaths since the pandemic started in the spring of 2020.