Miss. health officer predicts ‘additional 1K deaths’ before 2021

Miss. health officer predicts ‘additional 1K deaths’ before 2021
State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs, right, listens as Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves explains his rationale for not ordering a statewide mask mandate as some health officials have recently called on him to do so, during his COVID-19 briefing before reporters, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020 in Jackson, Miss. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis) (Source: Rogelio V. Solis)

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs predicted an additional 1,000 Mississippians could die from COVID-19 before 2021.

“What would I do to save 1,000 lives? We may see an additional 1,000 deaths before the start of 2021,” Dr. Dobbs wrote on Twitter Saturday morning.

He believes that future deaths are preventable.

“All preventable. I would do a lot. We collectively can save thousands of Mississippians throughout this rest of the pandemic,” Dr. Dobbs wrote.

The state health department encourages residents to avoid any social gatherings such as social events, sporting events, in-person church services, and weddings and funerals unless they involve only close family.

It is also recommended that residents wear masks and social distance in public places.

Mask Mandate

Currently, Mississippi does not have a statewide mask mandate. However, more than half of the state’s counties are under a mask mandate.

State health officials say a statewide mask mandate is vital to maintaining the healthcare system and possibly saving lives.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted healthcare delivery at every level. Our state’s healthcare system cannot continue to bear the overwhelming strain of the outbreak at its current state,” Dr. Claude Brunson, Mississippi State Medical Association executive director said in a statement.

The association says science has “proven” that masks are the best defense against the virus, and says new data released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention supports that fact.

Hospitals Are Overwhelmed

The University of Mississippi Medical Center, the state’s largest hospital, said on Wednesday it has a total of 700 beds and 765 patients.

In the Intensive Care Unit, UMMC Vice Chancellor LouAnn Woodward says all 92 beds are full, 18 of which have COVID-19 patients.

“The grave concern that I have is that people don’t understand that there’s a point you reach where you have done all you can do,” Dr. Woodward said.

She said there is ‘no simple fix’ to this problem, but she believes everyone can do their part by following a simple rule: ‘Wear a damn mask!’

Dr. Woodward also encourages people to not gather in groups or crowds, to wash their hands, and to stay home if they are sick.

Gov. Tate Reeves’ Response

“I get frustrated when so-called experts decide that if we just did one more thing, then we could change this,” Gov. Tate Reeves said during a press conference. “There is no one silver bullet. There is no one thing that we can do as a state. There is no one thing that I as a leader or that we as Mississippians can do to make this go away.”

In an interview with 3 on Your Side, Gov. Reeves said that issuing more statewide orders for long periods of time is not “realistic.”

“We got to make sure that anything we do that we do it in such a way that people can adhere to it,” noted Reeves. “Because when you ask people to do something that they don’t think is realistic and when you ask people to do something that they just can’t comply with, or maybe they quit complying with everything and I think we’ve got to guard against that.”

If the proper precautions are not taken, Dr. Dobbs believes thousands of lives could be lost before the end of 2020.

To date, 3,949 people have died from COVID-19 in Mississippi.

Read Dr. Dobbs’ tweet below:

“What would I do to save 1,000 lives? We may see an additional 1,000 deaths before the start of 2021. All preventable. I would do a lot. We collectively can save thousands of Mississippians throughout this rest of the pandemic. Yesterday 37 people died, many in their 30′s-50′s.”

Copyright 2020 WLBT. All rights reserved.