'Mississippi has utterly failed to contain spread of the coronavirus,' hospital association says

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves says ICU capacity problems are common in the state and occur even without COVID-19. The state's hospital association disagrees. 

"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," the Mississippi Hospital Association said in a statement shared by local ABC affiliate WLOX

In an interview with CNN last weekend, Mr. Reeves said state officials are "going to make sure that we work with our hospitals," and pointed to 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[s] to make sure everyone gets quality care," the governor said in the interview. 

The state health department ordered the suspension of elective surgeries requiring hospitalization July 11. Statewide, 18 percent of ICU beds were available as of July 21, with 49 percent occupied by patients who didn't have COVID-19, and 33 percent occupied by COVID-19 patients. 

Bed availability varies by region, as the governor expressed by noting two ICU beds available for the entire West-Central Mississippi region.

"It would be a really bad day to have a car wreck," he told WLOX. 

In its response to the governor's remarks, the Mississippi Hospital Association said hospitals in the state are ramping up surge capacity to treat all those who need care, but 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," its statement urged.

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