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Official: Mississippi hospitals likely to be overwhelmed

State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs during the June 18, 2020 coronavirus briefing.

Within two weeks, Mississippi hospitals will need to start housing patients two-to-a room and placing beds in open wards and other areas where patients don't normally stay to keep up with the surge in new coronavirus cases, the state health officer said Monday.

Posted: Jul 20, 2020 6:46 PM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Within two weeks, Mississippi hospitals will need to start housing patients two-to-a room and placing beds in open wards and other areas where patients don't normally stay to keep up with the surge in new coronavirus cases, the state health officer said Monday.

“If we don't see a decrease in transmission immediately, then it's pretty likely that the health care system is going to be thoroughly overwhelmed,” Dr. Thomas Dobbs said at a news briefing.

On Monday, 943 people were hospitalized in Mississippi with confirmed cases of coronavirus and 293 people were battling the virus in intensive care. And 40% of all patients in Mississippi's ICU's have coronavirus compared with 31% of patients just last Friday, a “phenomenal number,” Dobbs said.

“The fact that we are growing so quickly really tells us that we are at the verge of really pushing our system over its capacity," he said. “In large measure, we are already there."

The rising cases have forced leaders to take action. Starting Monday, people are required to wear masks in public in 23 of the 82 counties under a new executive order by Republican Gov. Tate Reeves. Those 23 counties cover 55% to 60% of the state population, Reeves said on a call with the White House coronavirus task force Monday.

On the call, Reeves said Mississippi is seeing a rapid increase in patients hospitalized with COVID-19.

”I recognize that compared to some other states, these are relatively small numbers, but obviously a movement in the wrong direction,” Reeves said.

Health officials paint a bleak picture. Emergency rooms have become makeshift intensive care units because hospitals have no other place to put patients, Dobbs said. He said he got a call about sending a patient to Missouri on Sunday because no beds were available in Mississippi or surrounding states.

Dobbs said it's discouraging to see social media posts with people not wearing masks or socially distancing. A video of a street basketball game in Jackson attended by hundreds of people drew attention over the weekend. A handful of people were wearing masks. A country music concert on the Gulf Coast also attracted a large crowd, with many people bare-faced.

Reeves' new executive order is an expansion of his past order requiring masks in 13 counties. Although he has vehemently spoken in support of all Mississippians wearing masks, Reeves has not set a statewide mask requirement and has said he will only mandate mask-wearing in counties with the highest increases in new coronavirus cases.

Monday on Twitter, Reeves said people have sought a “silver bullet” solution to the pandemic, whether it be ventilators, shelter-in-place orders or statewide mask mandates.

“Here’s the hard truth: there’s no single answer,” he wrote. “All of those measures can be useful. None can be our savior. There’s no magic solution coming to save us all from personal responsibility. There is no piece of paper that a politician can sign to make this go away.”

The governor's new order restricts public gatherings in those additional 10 counties. The governor announced that in those counties, he will limit gatherings to 10 people indoors and 20 outdoors. Until earlier this month, the statewide limit was 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors in all counties.

The new restrictions apply to Bolivar, Covington, Forrest, Humphreys, Panola, Sharkey, Simpson, Tallahatchie, Tate and Walthall counties.

The existing restrictions are in some of the most heavily populated counties in the state: Hinds, Madison and Rankin in the Jackson area; DeSoto County in the north; and Harrison and Jackson counties on the coast. The restrictions are also in smaller counties with high rates of the virus: Claiborne, Grenada, Jefferson, Quitman, Sunflower, Washington and Wayne.

The executive orders will expire at 8 a.m. Aug. 3.

Mississippi has a population of about 3 million. The Health Department said Monday that the state has had at least 43,889 confirmed cases and at least 1,358 deaths from the coronavirus as of Sunday evening. That was an increase of 1,251 cases and three deaths from numbers reported the day before.

At least 3,162 cases of the virus have been confirmed in long-term care facilities such as nursing homes, with at least 651 virus-related deaths in those facilities, the department said.

The true number of virus infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested and studies suggest people can be infected without feeling sick. While most people who contract the coronavirus recover after suffering only mild to moderate symptoms, it can be deadly for older patients and those with other health problems.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 159036

Reported Deaths: 3879
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto10708104
Hinds10519205
Harrison7555113
Jackson6708128
Rankin6130112
Lee547697
Madison5202110
Forrest400187
Jones382189
Lauderdale3727147
Lafayette344057
Washington3367108
Lamar307550
Lowndes261167
Oktibbeha259962
Bolivar250185
Panola240253
Neshoba2311122
Marshall227151
Leflore213991
Monroe212278
Pontotoc211231
Lincoln200867
Sunflower195555
Warren184958
Tate184051
Union176826
Copiah172540
Pike168360
Pearl River163870
Yazoo162940
Scott162730
Itawamba162637
Alcorn160428
Coahoma157844
Prentiss156732
Simpson155153
Adams148352
Grenada147145
Leake143344
Holmes135761
Covington135541
Tippah132530
George131725
Winston131726
Hancock130942
Wayne124924
Attala124735
Marion124248
Tishomingo114844
Chickasaw112132
Newton112129
Tallahatchie100727
Clay97127
Clarke95653
Jasper88523
Stone83115
Calhoun81513
Walthall79930
Montgomery78826
Carroll76315
Smith75716
Lawrence75214
Yalobusha74428
Noxubee74217
Perry69326
Tunica63519
Greene63022
Jefferson Davis60217
Amite59315
Claiborne59316
Humphreys55719
Quitman5117
Benton50518
Kemper49318
Webster47914
Wilkinson41322
Jefferson38712
Franklin3726
Choctaw3697
Sharkey33117
Issaquena1234
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 260359

Reported Deaths: 3776
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson34716513
Mobile20452370
Madison14215153
Tuscaloosa13755173
Montgomery12731243
Shelby1110278
Baldwin9341137
Lee801566
Morgan722855
Etowah692170
Calhoun6809121
Marshall675058
Houston552739
DeKalb512940
Cullman480246
St. Clair460357
Limestone455046
Lauderdale443357
Elmore432567
Walker3861112
Talladega381157
Jackson361623
Colbert341546
Blount315845
Autauga289342
Franklin262634
Coffee257717
Dale244454
Dallas234932
Chilton233641
Covington232434
Russell23153
Escambia206932
Tallapoosa190291
Chambers187551
Clarke164120
Pike163814
Marion148236
Winston144725
Lawrence137336
Pickens129720
Geneva12818
Marengo126724
Bibb125238
Barbour121429
Butler120042
Randolph107022
Cherokee106724
Hale101432
Fayette99916
Clay94825
Washington93921
Henry8996
Monroe84611
Lowndes82629
Cleburne80714
Macon77122
Crenshaw73330
Conecuh72914
Lamar7258
Bullock70919
Perry6987
Wilcox65518
Sumter59522
Greene44518
Choctaw43519
Coosa3824
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