The Mississippi State Department of Health is warning that COVID-19 hospitalizations are again approaching crisis levels.
In a tweet Wednesday, the agency said that unless changes were made immediately, Mississippi could see a critical shortage of first line care for seriously ill and injured patients.
Hospitalizations for COVID-19 are on track toward the crisis level we saw this summer. If we don’t make changes immediately, we’ll see critical shortages of first-line care for the seriously ill and injured. We know what works: social distancing, small gatherings, and masks. pic.twitter.com/yWdZTZx0kj
— MS Dept of Health (@msdh) November 11, 2020
Although still below last summer’s peak of about 1,200 people hospitalized for the virus, Tuesday’s total of 756 hospitalizations was more than 60% of the late July peak of about 1,200, and hospitalizations are continuing to rise.
Rises in hospitalizations generally come a week or two after rises in case counts. Mississippi’s new COVID-19 case counts began rising in October, and it wasn’t long before hospitalizations followed.
Mississippi’s trend in rising hospitalizations is mirrored across the nation, with many areas struggling to keep up. Wisconsin opened a field hospital on the state fair grounds. Hospitals in Kansas City, Missouri, turned away ambulances. More than 4,700 are hospitalized in Illinois and nearly 6,200 in Texas. All told, nearly 62,000 people are hospitalized in the U.S. as of Nov. 10, almost 3,000 more than the peak of last summer’s surge and an increase of about 40% in two weeks, according to the COVID Tracking Project.
“Treatments for COVID-19 have improved since the Northeast outbreak,” the project wrote recently on its blog. “The ratio of hospitalizations to deaths has fallen tremendously since the spring. But it is also true that wherever we see hospitalizations go up, deaths rise two to three weeks later. We’ve seen it happen in state after state, in region after region, and nationally as well.
“Improved outcomes depend on maintaining the highest standard of care. With hospitalization numbers like these, it is not clear that health care systems in all hard-hit areas will be able to maintain this standard.”
To date, the rises in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations is outpacing a rise in deaths. In Mississippi, the percentage of cases to deaths is hovering at just over 2.7%, down from over 3% last month. The rate of deaths is increasing nationwide, however, up more than 20% in the past two weeks.