Hospital Assoc.: Miss. has ‘utterly failed’ to contain coronavirus

Updated: Jul. 22, 2020 at 5:17 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves is discussing the outbreak of COVID-19 in the state.

Cases continue to spike in the Magnolia State, with more than 1,500 cases reported on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Earlier this week, Reeves extended an executive order that mandates masks in public to 23 counties. The new order will extend until Monday, August 3, at 8 a.m.

Hospital beds are a continuous concern for local health officials.

Since July 1, Reeves said there’s a 55% increase in patients in hospital beds. The total as of Wednesday is nearly 1,000.

“Today, we have two ICU beds available in the entire region,” Reeves said of West-Central Mississippi, the area that includes Jackson. “It would be a really bad day to have a car wreck.”

State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said 40% of all ICU patients are because of coronavirus, compared to 30% just a week ago.

In an interview with CNN this weekend, Reeves was dismissive of the idea that Mississippi hospitals are currently overwhelmed.

“We’re going to make sure that we work with our hospitals. We have the ability to surge ICU beds. Understand that in our state, and many states around the country, there are ICU bed capacity issues without COVID-19... This is not something that is uncommon. Is it challenging? Absolutely. Does COVID-19 make it more difficult? More challenging? Absolutely it does. But we are prepared and we’ll make decision to make sure everyone gets quality care.”

Reeves says elective surgeries requiring hospitalization are currently banned, but they may soon move to a case-by-case basis with hospitals being prevented from all elective surgeries as a way to help keep ICU beds freed.

Reeves continues to urge all Mississippians to wear masks. He said everyone who worked so hard in March and April to contain the virus, but people “let down their guard,” allowing the virus to continue spreading.

The Mississippi Hospital Association offered this retort to the governor’s comments:

“Let’s be perfectly clear. The reason why our hospitals are being stretched to capacity is because Mississippi has utterly failed to contain the spread of the coronavirus.  Mississippi had a limited number of doctors, nurses and other resources to take care of a very sick population before this epic pandemic.  Hospitals are ramping up surge capacity to handle all those who need care, but hospitals cannot stop the community spread.  Please protect yourself, your family and your neighbors - wear a mask, practice social distancing and avoid large gatherings where the virus is likely to spread.”

Dobbs said people are “absolutely” not staying in small groups, despite the mandate limiting that.

“We do not need to be having mass gatherings. [...] It’s extremely dangerous, outdoors and indoors,” Dobbs said.

Reeves says buy-in for mask wearing is the best way to slow the virus in the state despite his stance that a statewide mask mandate is not the best option for Mississippi.

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