Mississippi health expert says coronavirus fight ‘is not over,’ hospitalization trend ‘concerning’

Published 4:06 pm Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Mississippi’s top public health official said he’s concerned by an uptick in COVID-19 coronavirus hospital utilization that has increased over the last few days encouraging Mississippians to remain very cautious even as the state has begun easing some restrictions.

“This thing is not over. We need to continue to be careful,” Mississippi State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said. “We had a significant increase in our reports.”

Mississippi announced an additional 248 new coronavirus cases Tuesday morning and another 10 deaths related to the virus outbreak. The state now has confirmed 6,342 cases and attributed 239 deaths to the virus.

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“If we look at some other trends that are somewhat concerning we are seeing an increased utilization of hospital capacity of patients with coronavirus,” Dobbs said. “If we look at the number of hospital beds being occupied, we’re at an all time high of 429.

“And if we look at the number of ICU beds, we’re not at a high, but we’re at a level that we haven’t seen in about a week of 162 ICU beds occupied and 77 covid patients on respiratory support or ventilators,” he said.

“What does that mean? It’s hard to know for sure,” Dobbs said. “It could well be that our peak has passed and we’re seeing more cases, that’s a plausible scenario. But it’s also plausible that we’re going to have continuing increasing cases and continuing hospital utilization.”

Dobbs said community transmission in the state is still ongoing.

“This thing is not over. We need to continue to be careful,” he said. “Certainly we have flattened the curve … but please, now is not the time to let down our guard.”

“Please, every person exercise as much caution as you can when you are out in public,” Dobbs said. “Don’t go out if you don’t have to. Really, people, we just need to be careful.”

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves urged Mississippians to use great caution as they move about.

“We’re not out of the woods yet. There is more work to be done,” he said. “Wear a mask. Protect yourselves and protect those you’ll be around.”