Governor Tate Reeves held a press conference on Friday to address the state’s status concerning COVID-19.
“Mississippi hospitals have lost some 2,000 healthcare professionals in the last year. It is that staffing shortage we are having to address,” stated Reeves.
The state issued requests for proposals in which they were seeking additional staff, including physicians, nurses, respiratory technicians and paramedics. So far, 19 responses have been received from private contractors. Governor Reeves expects to have the extra manpower in place within a week.
The state is expected to usher in 65 physicians, 920 nurses and 239 respiratory technicians which would free up to 235 ICU beds.
Reeves urged the citizens to get vaccinated, stating the risk assessment favors the vaccinated. “The data is becoming more and more clear. Those who receive the vaccine are much less likely to contract the virus,” stated Reeves. “I believe vaccines are safe, I believe they are effective.”
Though Reeves stated he has no intentions at this time in issuing a statewide mask mandate, he encouraged their use.
“I think, personally, individuals should look at the data that exists out there and make the best decision for them and their families,” stated Reeves.
The governor stated the lack of enthusiasm in citizens getting a vaccine is in part due to the CDC changing its guidance from stating, at first, those who were vaccinated did not have to wear a mask, then revising their guidance to state that a mask should be worn, even if vaccinated. This changing and evolving guidance has made some apprehensive about taking the vaccine. He stated the CDC’s decision to pull the Johnson and Johnson vaccine for six days also had a hand to play in citizen’s concerns surrounding it.
“It is highly unlikely that an individual that is vaccinated gets the virus,” stated Reeves. “It is unlikely that if you are vaccinated, if you do get the virus, that you transmit it to others.”
Dr. Thomas Dobbs also weighed in on the importance of getting protected against COVID-19. Though breakthrough infections are happening, around 97% of those admitted for COVID-19 are among the unvaccinated.
“We reported the largest number of COVID cases today than we ever have,” stated Dobbs. “We definitely want for folks to get vaccinated and get protected.”
Dobbs expressed the importance of social distancing, stating those that avoid breathing indoor air with others are far less likely to contract the illness.
“Delta is not going to last forever,” stated Dobbs. “I think there is a way to be safe, there is also a way to do stuff.”
When asked about the possibility of mandating vaccines for state employees, Reeves stated he has no intention of doing so at this time.
“I am not supportive of a vaccine passport, I am not supportive of mandating the vaccine for COVID-19, period,” stated Reeves.
Reeves stated, the main thing he wanted Mississippians to understand is, “We believe that the vaccine is effective. We believe that it is safe. We believe that it helps protect you from COVID-19. There are breakthrough cases and there are risks associated with it, but we believe the risk of not taking the vaccine is far greater than the risk of taking it and we encourage you to do so.”