August 6, 2020

Mississippi COVID-19 hospitalizations up by more than 50% in weeks

Mississippi’s leaders continued to express concern Wednesday over the impact that rapidly increasing cases of coronavirus and hospitalizations will have on the state’s health care system.

The Mississippi State Department of Health reported that 490 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 on June 27, followed by 602 on July 1. On Wednesday, 942 people were hospitalized with the virus.

“That is a 55% increase in patients in the month of July,” Gov. Tate Reeves said at a media briefing. “We’ve added over 340 patients in less than three weeks, in less than 20 days.”

Reeves and State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs have repeatedly warned in recent days that hospitals in Mississippi are running out of beds. In the past week, the state’s top hospitals have had from zero to only a handful of beds available for urgent patients.

At Wednesday’s briefing, Reeves once again implored Mississippians to wear masks. He referred to President Donald Trump tweeting Monday that wearing a mask is patriotic.

“If you love the president, join him, be patriotic and wear a mask,” Reeves said. “If you don’t like the president, then just wear a mask to spite him.”

He also said if people think he’s doing a good job as governor, he asks they wear a mask in public, stay at least 6 feet (2 meters) away from other people and avoid large groups. Or, “if you think I’m worthless and doing a horrible job, well, why don’t you just prove me wrong,” Reeves said. “Wear a mask. Stay socially distanced.”

Reeves has mandated that people who live in 23 counties with the highest number of coronavirus cases wear masks in public places but has refused to impose a statewide mandate.

Mississippi reported one of its highest single-day increases of new cases and deaths Wednesday, with 1,547 confirmed cases and 34 deaths from numbers reported the day before; the figures included six deaths that occurred between June 21 and July 8, with information from death certificates arriving later.

Mississippi has a population of about 3 million. The Health Department said Wednesday that the state has had at least 47,071 confirmed cases and at least 1,390 deaths from COVID-19 as of Tuesday evening.

At least 3,257 cases of the virus have been confirmed in long-term care facilities such as nursing homes, with at least 662 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.