JACKSON, Miss. (WTVA) — Governor Tate Reeves said a federal team of health care professionals is expected to arrive in Tupelo by Sunday as part of the effort to help Mississippi deal with a hospital crisis caused by a steep surge of delta variant cases.
The team is expected to help North Mississippi Medical Center whose leaders said there is not enough staff to treat the overwhelming number of patients showing up at the hospital.
That group would be similar to the one at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson manning a field hospital in the hospital parking lot.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Mississippi, the majority among those who have not been vaccinated.
On Friday, state health officials announced its largest daily number of COVID-19 cases.
On Thursday, Gov. Tate Reeves extended Mississippi's state of emergency beyond this upcoming Sunday.
"Out of the total number of COVID-19, new COVID-19 cases in Mississippi that we are reporting, approximately 97 percent of those are found in unvaccinated individuals," Reeves said. "Approximately 89 percent of our current hospitalizations are those who have not been vaccinated."
"As you guys know, we reported the largest number of COVID cases a day that we ever have," State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said. "We reported 5,023 cases and 31 deaths today."
Dobbs continued, "We've lost four healthy people in their 20s, two of them were pregnant, zero vaccinated. If we look at those who are in their 30s in the past four days, we've lost 10 people in their 30s, and these aren't people who are chronically ill, cancer patients. These are normal people who were at work last week or a couple of weeks ago. Ten people in their 30s have died from COVID, zero vaccinated."
The governor again encourageed people to get vaccinated but said multiple times during a Friday afternoon news conference he has no intention of imposing another mask mandate, either by county or in the schools.
He told reporters local officials and individuals should be calling the shots concerning such decisions, not him.
“I don’t even begin to think I’m so much smarter. Unlike some of you, I don’t think I’m so much smarter than every other Mississippian that I ought to be telling them what they ought to do,” the governor said.
Federal and state health experts overwhelmingly recommend people in public indoor settings wear a mask regardless of vaccination status, but Reeves again expressed opposition.
He acknowledged masking can help but believes there is more harm because it takes away the reward for getting the shot.
The news conference came on the same day a top state health official offered a bleak outlook on the rapid growth of cases.
"It's pretty grim, and as bad as it is today, it's just gonna get progressively worse," state epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers said in a weekly online discussion with the Mississippi State Medical Association.