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Mississippi working to expand hospital capacity for virus

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves says hospitals in the state have about 3,000 beds, and projections show almost 400 more could be needed for the coronavirus pandemic.

Posted: Apr 7, 2020 9:11 AM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said Monday that hospitals in the state have about 3,000 beds, and projections show that almost 400 more beds will be needed when the state reaches is peak of the coronavirus outbreak in the next few weeks.

He said officials are working on a system to send the sickest patients to larger, better equipped hospitals. He said smaller, rural hospitals could care for patients who have either not yet reached the most severe part of the illness or are past the most severe part and are recovering.

Reeves also said a military base in south Mississippi, Camp Shelby, has 200 beds that can be used for less severe patients, and officials are close to finding a site in north Mississippi that could also be set up with a 200-bed capacity.

“There will be more Mississippians who die from this virus,” Reeves said Monday. “It is serious, it is contagious and it can be fatal.”

The Mississippi Health Department said Monday that as of Sunday evening, the state had 1,738 positive tests for the virus and 51 deaths. The state has about 3 million residents.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the highly contagious virus can cause severe symptoms and be fatal.

Mississippi has high rates of heart disease, diabetes and asthma. Reeves said Monday that many people in the state have “unique risks.”

The Health Department has not released statistics showing the race of people who have tested positive or died from COVID-19. Jim Craig, the department's senior deputy and director of the Office of Health Protection, said in response to a question Monday that he thinks African Americans have been disproportionately affected.

Mississippi on Sunday became the latest U.S. state declared a major disaster area by President Donald Trump, giving it access to more federal assistance to confront the pandemic. Reeves announced Friday that he had asked Trump to issue the declaration.

Reeves issued a stay-at-home order that took effect Friday evening and remains in place until the morning of April 20. It bans gatherings of 10 or more people.

Reeves has said people should limit their outings to essential errands like grocery shopping. He said law enforcement officers will break up big groups of people who are out socializing. Grocery stores, pharmacies and other businesses deemed essential will remain open.

Republican Reeves has said he does not think government has the power to shut down churches, and he urged people to worship through online services rather than in person.

A church in southwest Mississippi held a Palm Sunday service with about 250 people attending, the Natchez Democrat reported. The service at New Hope the Vision Center Missionary Baptist Church in Adams County was carried live on Facebook. Its pastor, the Rev. Stanley Searcy, told the newspaper that people who attended were seated far from each other in a sanctuary that can hold 1,800.

One member of the church is Adams County Sheriff Travis Patten, who tested positive for the coronavirus several days ago. Patten told the newspaper that he has not been to church since March 17. The sheriff said he received several calls from people wanting to know why the church was holding an in-person service.

Searcy said he believes having 250 people inside the church does not violate the governor's order. The sheriff disagreed, but said he is not going to shut down services as they are happening.

“I’m not coming to anybody’s pulpit and snatching them off of holy ground,” Patten told the newspaper. ”Whatever happens will happen outside of the church, and we will deal with it.”

Asked about that church service on Monday, Reeves said: “People do not need to be going to large gatherings of churches of more than 10 people. It is not smart to do that, and I do believe that it is in violation of the order of keeping folks from being in groups of larger than 10 people."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 65436

Reported Deaths: 1848
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds5487116
DeSoto352328
Madison238763
Harrison237835
Rankin222032
Jackson220142
Jones184258
Forrest172155
Washington158237
Lauderdale139090
Lee133232
Neshoba127891
Lamar118414
Bolivar116333
Oktibbeha109037
Lowndes103935
Warren100731
Scott98720
Panola98012
Sunflower96723
Copiah94128
Lafayette93714
Leflore89362
Pike87734
Holmes86348
Grenada83021
Yazoo80712
Pontotoc7918
Lincoln79041
Leake77925
Simpson77930
Wayne74921
Monroe74751
Coahoma69711
Tate69227
Marion63819
Marshall6389
Covington60713
Winston60415
Adams60225
Union56215
George5484
Newton53511
Pearl River52037
Attala51324
Walthall48919
Noxubee44411
Chickasaw44119
Tallahatchie40710
Calhoun4009
Claiborne39913
Smith39413
Prentiss3869
Alcorn3825
Clay38214
Jasper3819
Hancock36314
Tishomingo3505
Itawamba33710
Tippah32513
Clarke32425
Tunica3176
Montgomery3073
Yalobusha30710
Lawrence3067
Humphreys28211
Carroll25411
Quitman2401
Greene23111
Kemper22815
Jefferson Davis2266
Amite2206
Perry2207
Webster21612
Jefferson1946
Wilkinson19413
Sharkey1903
Stone1633
Benton1330
Choctaw1304
Franklin1162
Issaquena251
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 94827

Reported Deaths: 1674
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson12486232
Mobile9420204
Montgomery6449148
Madison516130
Tuscaloosa405769
Baldwin338023
Unassigned319060
Shelby316432
Marshall306034
Lee258844
Morgan229517
Etowah204128
DeKalb174513
Calhoun167213
Elmore167238
Walker149864
Houston134812
Dallas130523
St. Clair128915
Russell12772
Limestone126113
Franklin123820
Cullman118912
Colbert114113
Lauderdale112315
Autauga105021
Escambia104416
Talladega96713
Jackson9244
Tallapoosa84179
Chambers83538
Dale80223
Blount7593
Butler75635
Chilton7456
Coffee7365
Covington71620
Pike6877
Lowndes56724
Barbour5655
Marion56224
Marengo53614
Clarke4949
Hale46426
Bullock45011
Winston44011
Perry4364
Wilcox41410
Bibb4134
Monroe4084
Randolph39410
Conecuh37810
Pickens3779
Sumter36018
Lawrence3321
Macon32013
Washington32012
Crenshaw3123
Choctaw27712
Cherokee2587
Greene24911
Henry2493
Geneva2480
Clay2375
Lamar2122
Fayette1835
Cleburne1251
Coosa1012
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