Mississippi to convert parking garage into hospital overflow as COVID cases swamp state, governor says

Published 2:20 pm Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves urged Mississippians to remain calm as cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus have hospitals under so much stress that they’re calling for state and federal emergency help and are planning on opening up an overflow hospital in a parking garage in the state capital.

“We are not panicking,” Reeves wrote on social media. “As we do with every emergency (tornado, hurricane, flooding, ice storm, and this pandemic), we are calmly making decisions based on the best available data to manage the situation and mitigate its impact on our people.”

Reeves, who has resisted reissuing a statewide mask mandate that seemingly proved effective last year, has been criticized of late for simply being absent from the pandemic response. Mississippi Today reported Tuesday that Reeves was out of state at a Republican Governor’s Association meeting as the state’s hospitals were filling up with COVID patients.

Last year Reeves held news conferences almost daily to discuss the state’s COVID battle plans but has largely been silent of late.

In his Wednesday social media post, Reeves took a phrase from President Joe Biden and referenced the pandemic as having become “more and more like a ‘pandemic of the unvaccinated.'”

Reeves touted a list of things, some previously announced, that the state is doing to help ease the burden on hospitals, including delaying elective surgical procedures that would require overnight care.

He also said the state was working with the Veterans Administration to open up hospital bed capacity for non-veterans at VA faciliites around the state.

Reeves also said the state planned to open up a 50-bed facility in the parking garage at the University of Mississippi Medical Center by Friday.

“As you can see, in spite of the angry rhetoric coming from so many, our emergency management team is doing what it does – we are calmly dealing with an ever-changing environment to meet the needs of Mississippi,” he wrote. “Please … pray for your fellow Mississippians. Be smart. Remain calm. Ignore all the irrational folks. Do what’s best for you and your family.”