The message gets more ominous as record-high coronavirus deaths announced Tuesday

The message gets more ominous as record-high coronavirus deaths announced Tuesday

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The message was clear.

“We are now skyrocketing. And you know, we may be in for a rough summer and a rougher fall,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers.

Byers and State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs laid out the new numbers: 44 deaths reported in one day, 957 new cases.

“You can’t put a lot of people together in the middle of the worst pandemic in the century and expect nothing bad to happen,” said Dobbs.

Byers says half of the deaths were in the long term care facilities. And as people continue to ignore social distancing guidelines and cases go up, it poses a real threat not just to the patients, but also to the healthcare system.

“That we seem to be willing to sacrifice nursing homes and schools just to go to a party is phenomenal to me, just to be honest. It actually hurts my heart a little bit that we don’t have enough patients to support those things that are critical to the success of our kids and our seniors,” Dobbs said.

“My greatest fear is starting to be realized because there are people in ERs now across the state that can’t get a bed. They can’t get transferred where they need to go. We’re sending them out of state,” he said.

Health officials said local governments that are mandating mask wearing are helping the cause immensely.

“We’re excited to see different communities embracing a mask ordinance and trying to embrace social distancing more aggressively,” Dobbs said. “We encourage every community, every city, ever county to look at enacting a mask ordinance such that we can protect our citizens as much as possible.”

Tuesday, the health department issued an order for Hinds, Madison, Rankin, Forrest, Jones, and Washington Counties to put off elective surgeries until further notice as their hospitals continue to fill. Dobbs says he doesn’t expect the order to stop with those.

He added that there’s no way to tell when there will be an end in sight as long as people shun social distancing guidelines.

“The other side’s going to be like next spring or next summer. We’re just going to be riding it,” said Dobbs. “Unless it happens to you or your family, people don’t think it’s real. But eventually it’s gong to be you or your family and as it grows and gets more, it’s going to be more and more personal.”

It’s time to stop being selfish and start doing it right, the doctors said.

“We need to act as if we could infect somebody else. If we do that, if we social distance, if we wear our masks, we can cut down on the transmission,” Byers said.

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