Mississippi’s seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases drops for third straight day

Hospitalizations expected to follow suit in a few weeks, but administrators worry about rationing care
Published: Jan. 27, 2022 at 8:33 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - With Mississippi’s daily average of coronavirus cases decreasing for three consecutive days, health experts are cautious about saying the Omicron wave has finally peaked, saying more data is required first.

Meanwhile, the state’s hospital system still hasn’t been able to find its footing amidst high hospitalizations and low staff.

“There isn’t a hospital in the state who will say they’re well positioned to take care of any additional patients and especially ICU and the ED, they’re being incredibly hard hit with this,” said Chief Nursing Officer Susan Russell at Singing River Health Systems.

Russell said they’re still having to ration out care when it comes to accepting patient transfers.

“It breaks your heart. They said they’ve called 32 hospitals looking for ICU space to take somebody, 32 hospitals that say ‘no’ every single time because nobody had ICU space,” Russell said.

The state’s seven-day average hit its highest point ever on Monday at nearly 9,000 cases, and has been dropping ever since.

However, as state heath leaders have said repeatedly -- and data has shown -- declining COVID-19 case numbers don’t translate into immediate drops in hospitalizations, either.

“It’s probably going to take a couple of weeks before the hospitals start seeing the kind of decline that they want to, but I would say that we are at a point where we should be plateauing now,” Baptist Health Systems Infectious disease physician Dr. Hiren Pokharna said. “[It’s] very important that we don’t drop our guards yet, you know. Masking in enclosed spaces is still as important, getting vaccinated is still as important. The fact that the numbers are going down doesn’t negate those, the importance of those things, because we don’t want to see another surge with another variant anytime soon.”

Those drops in transmission are being reflected in staffing, Russell says.

They have fewer nurses and health care workers out sick this week than last, but the overall number still adversely affects their ability to care for patients.

Russell said in Singing River’s three hospitals, 70 healthcare workers are currently recovering from COVID.

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