Mississippi health officials ask federal government for help, say state's hospital system on brink of 'failure'

Amid a COVID-19 surge and shortage of healthcare workers and beds, Mississippi health officials are saying the state's hospital system is on the brink of failure and federal help is needed, according to The Washington Post.

"We're going to see a lot of deaths in coming days; it's just inevitable," Thomas Dobbs, MD, state health officer, said at an Aug. 11 news conference, according to The Guardian.

As of Aug. 11, Mississippi had the second lowest vaccination rate in the U.S., with 35.36 percent of its population fully vaccinated. The majority — 97 percent — of COVID-19 patients are unvaccinated, Dr. Dobbs said, adding, "We wouldn't be having the same situation at all if we had a higher vaccination rate." 

The state health department verified that it had asked the federal government to send a military hospital ship. Federal healthcare workers requested by the state are set to arrive Aug. 13, and officials said 10 additional ICU beds would be made available at two Veterans Affairs medical centers.

Over the last seven days, Mississippi has averaged almost 2,700 new cases per day — a 54 percent jump over the last week, according to data compiled by the Post. More than 1,500 people in the state are hospitalized with the virus, filling nearly 400 intensive care unit beds. Earlier this week, officials said the state didn't have any open ICU beds. The number of ICU beds filled and ventilators in use statewide has surpassed the winter numbers, reported the Clarion Ledger.

Jackson-based University of Mississippi Medical Center is transforming part of its parking garage into a 50-bed field hospital to meet demand, said Alan Jones, MD, associate vice chancellor for clinical affairs.

"If we track back a week or so when we look at the case positivity rate, the rate of new cases, the rate of hospitalizations ... if we continue that trajectory within the next five to seven to 10 days, I think we're going to see failure of the hospital system in Mississippi," Dr. Jones said, according to the Post.

Republican Gov. Tate Reeves reiterated Aug. 11 that the state would not mandate mask-wearing, but tweeted a list of what the state was doing to help with the hospitalizations spike.   


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