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: 315026

Reported Deaths: 7257
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21684260
Hinds20385416
Harrison17973309
Rankin13650278
Jackson13456246
Madison10130217
Lee9988174
Jones8388163
Forrest7701152
Lauderdale7198240
Lowndes6411148
Lamar624686
Lafayette6210119
Washington5342134
Bolivar4804132
Oktibbeha463298
Panola4601107
Pearl River4524146
Marshall4454103
Warren4397121
Pontotoc421172
Monroe4120133
Union411276
Neshoba4033176
Lincoln3972110
Hancock380287
Leflore3500125
Sunflower336490
Tate335484
Pike3330105
Scott316773
Alcorn313670
Yazoo311870
Itawamba300877
Copiah297865
Coahoma295979
Simpson295388
Tippah289068
Adams288682
Prentiss280360
Marion269680
Leake268673
Wayne262941
Grenada261987
Covington260381
George249448
Newton246963
Winston227881
Tishomingo227567
Jasper221148
Attala214473
Chickasaw208457
Holmes189174
Clay185654
Stone183033
Tallahatchie179041
Clarke178180
Calhoun170932
Yalobusha164838
Smith162734
Walthall134345
Greene130633
Lawrence129324
Montgomery127242
Noxubee126734
Perry126338
Amite123142
Carroll121929
Webster114532
Jefferson Davis107233
Tunica105726
Claiborne102530
Benton100125
Humphreys96733
Kemper95828
Franklin83923
Quitman81116
Choctaw76418
Wilkinson67631
Jefferson65728
Sharkey50217
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 540267

Reported Deaths: 11038
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson798791529
Mobile41295809
Madison35175506
Tuscaloosa25932455
Shelby25309249
Montgomery24736593
Baldwin21422310
Lee15997172
Calhoun14577319
Morgan14431280
Etowah13927353
Marshall12280225
Houston10650282
Elmore10158206
Limestone10075151
St. Clair9955245
Cullman9773194
Lauderdale9465243
DeKalb8866188
Talladega8344176
Walker7261278
Autauga7010108
Jackson6840112
Blount6776139
Colbert6322135
Coffee5583118
Dale4878113
Russell445938
Chilton4383113
Franklin426382
Covington4138118
Tallapoosa4044153
Escambia395177
Chambers3598123
Dallas3569153
Clarke351561
Marion3140101
Pike312077
Lawrence303698
Winston275873
Bibb264864
Geneva254178
Marengo249865
Pickens234862
Barbour232056
Hale224078
Butler219069
Fayette213162
Henry190043
Cherokee184845
Randolph182542
Monroe178241
Washington167839
Macon161350
Clay157257
Crenshaw153657
Cleburne149641
Lamar143336
Lowndes140753
Wilcox127430
Bullock123342
Conecuh110829
Coosa109228
Perry107826
Sumter105032
Greene92634
Choctaw61024
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