JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The number of people who have died of coronavirus complications in Mississippi surpassed 4,000 on Tuesday, and health officials warned that there will be more fatalities and hospitalizations if residents continue having non-essential social gatherings.
“We are seeing ongoing heavy case burdens — many, many cases, rising deaths and increasing strain on our health care system,” the state health officer, Dr. Thomas Dobbs, said during an online news conference.
Dobbs said rising cases are attributable to social gatherings — funerals, parties, sporting events — where people are not following safety guidelines.
“It’s not a joke — if we would just wear a mask in public and avoid nonessential social gatherings, the universe would be an entirely different place,” he said.
Mississippi, with a population of about 3 million, has reported at least 4,017 deaths from COVID-19 as of Monday evening. There have been at least 167,926 total cases of coronavirus since the start of the pandemic, the Health Department said.
That’s an increase of 1,732 cases and 56 deaths from numbers reported the day before. Forty-two deaths occurred between Nov. 24 and Monday.
The number of coronavirus hospitalizations has peaked in recent days as numbers of new cases have surged. However, the number of intensive care unit patients has not yet reached the record highs of the summer, although most units are full, Dobb said. That’s something he expects will change soon.
“Based on the number of the cases we’ve seen in the last week or so, we know that a large percentage of those are going to require hospital care,” Dobbs said.
As it is, Dobbs said hospitals are unable to find healthcare facilities where they can transfer patients because everywhere is full.
“I was talking to Jackson MED-COM, who manages patient transfers, and they can’t get patients anywhere,” Dobbs said.
Dobbs said the health department continues to work with hospitals to try to meet the demand and find space in hospitals where patients can be housed in order to receive care.