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Mississippi hospitals near or at capacity to care for critically ill patients

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Mississippi State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs (Photo via video screen grab)

In the governor’s live update Monday, he and State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs reiterated that the state’s hospitals are at or near capacity for critically ill patients.

Dobbs issued an order July 10 for hospitals to suspend any procedures that require an overnight hospital stay to increase the availability of beds. With rising numbers of COVID-19 cases, however, even that may not be enough.

As of Monday, the availability of intensive care beds was reduced to zero in many of the state’s hospitals. In Jackson, — the home of numerous hospitals including the University of Mississippi Medical Center, Baptist Hospital and St. Dominic’s Hospital — only one ICU bed was available.

“We may be at crisis standards of care within the next several weeks if we’re not careful,” Dobbs said, and he went on to explain what that would look like.

“It means a little bit different health care system. It’s putting people in open wards. It’s doubling up rooms. It’s housing people in places they don’t ordinarily stay for medical care,” he said, adding, “If we don’t see a decrease in transmission immediately, then it’s likely the health care system will be thoroughly overwhelmed.”

Dobbs said hospitals are taking care of ICU patients in their emergency rooms, converting those spaces because of the need.

“I got a call about sending a patient to Missouri yesterday because we couldn’t find a hospital bed for a certain patient in the surrounding states,” he said.

Dobbs called it “disheartening” to see pictures of restaurants that aren’t socially distancing, and large groups of young people partying “like there’s no tomorrow.”

“There’s a price for everything,” he added. “There’s no free lunch.”

With COVID-19, there is always a lag time of two or more weeks from action to reaction. A big party or gathering occurs where people aren’t wearing masks, and two or three weeks later, the results are increased infections. As infections rise, it takes a couple of weeks to see the impact in increased hospitalizations. Then, in turn, it takes another couple of weeks for the results to be reflected in increased deaths.

A good example of this is the outbreak centered on the Mississippi Capitol. During the session that reopened in mid-May, many legislators failed to wear masks or practice social distancing. By the end of June, reports starting appearing that dozens of lawmakers and their staffs had tested positive for COVID-19. Last week, at least two legislators were hospitalized. Monday, Dobbs said 45 people had tested positive in the outbreak, including 31 legislators. Many of those individuals are in serious condition.

The purpose of flattening the curve of COVID-19 infections, a concept that received a lot of attention as states closed businesses and issued shelter-in-place orders, was to ensure health care systems were not overwhelmed by large numbers of patients all at once. That concept has gone by the wayside.

In Mississippi yesterday, more than 1,100 people were hospitalized with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 infections. Those numbers have had a steady upward trajectory since early June.

With a record number of new cases being recorded this month in Mississippi, it seems the end is nowhere in sight.

COVID-19

New COVID-19 cases in MS top 1,000 Thursday for the first time in nearly two months

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New COVID-19 cases reported in Mississippi topped 1,000 for the first time in nearly two months. The last time the state reported more than 1,000 cases on any one day was Aug. 19. As new cases rise, so do hospitalizations, and both have been rising steadily since the beginning of October.

The Mississippi State Department of Health reported five new COVID-19 cases Thursday in Warren County and no new deaths. The cumulative number of cases in Warren County to date is 1,486, and the county’s death toll is 54.

Statewide, MSDH reported 1,322 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, bringing the total cumulative confirmed cases in Mississippi to 108,139. The seven-day average of new cases is 760, higher by 311 cases from a month ago.

Most new cases are seen in younger people recently, and they are more likely to survive the virus than those 65 and older. By far, the age group reporting the most cases in Mississippi are young people from 18 to 29 years old.

MSDH reported Thursday that 12 additional Mississippians died of COVID-19 statewide. The cumulative number of deaths in the state is 3,152. The state’s rate of deaths to confirmed cases is about 2.9%.

Deaths are a lagging indicator. While July saw the highest number of new cases since the crisis began, August saw the highest number of deaths. The highest number of deaths in any one day was 67 reported Aug. 25.

Of the 12 deaths MSDH reported Thursday, 11 occurred between Oct. 3 and Oct. 14 in the following counties:

County Deaths reported Thursday
Forrest 1
Hinds 2
Jackson 1
Lee 1
Marshall 1
Neshoba 1
Perry 1
Tippah 1
Union 1
Washington 1

One additional COVID-19 related death occurred in Washington County Aug. 23 and was identified from a death certificate report.

New cases and deaths were reported to MSDH as of 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 14. MSDH usually reports statistics on the COVID-19 coronavirus each day based on the previous day’s testing and death reports.

The primary metric concerning state health officials are the numbers of people hospitalized, and that number rose steadily with the rise of new cases in July and August. On June 6, the number of Mississippians hospitalized with confirmed cases of COVID-19 was at 358. Hospitalizations nearly tripled by late July. They leveled off in early August and began noticeably dropping in the middle of the month including critical cases and numbers of people requiring ventilators. Hospitalizations continued to drop in September but levelled off at the middle of the month. They continued to drop through Oct. 3; however, hospitalizations have been showing a definite rise since then.

The number of Mississippians hospitalized for the virus as of 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 13, is 633, about half of the late July peak of more than 1,200. The number includes 500 with confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 133 people with suspected but unconfirmed cases. Of those with confirmed infections, 143 were critically ill and in intensive care units and 72 were on ventilators.

Source: MSDH

MSDH has estimated the number of people who can be presumed recovered from COVID-19 in Mississippi. That number is 94,165 through Sunday, Oct. 11. This figure is updated weekly. It represents about 87.1% of the cumulative 108,139 cases reported Thursday, Oct. 15.

The number of cases in Warren County three weeks ago, Thursday, Sept. 24, was 1,402, therefore the estimated number of people presumed recovered in the county is 1,348, or about 90.7% of the 1,486 cumulative cases reported as of Thursday, Oct. 15. The county has an estimated 84 active cases.

These estimates are based on MSDH’s guidelines for calculating estimated recoveries when hospitalizations are not known, using the number of cases 21 days ago, less known outcomes (deaths).

The total number of Mississippians tested for COVID-19 (PCR and antigen tests identifying current infections) as of Sunday, Oct. 3 (the latest date available from MSDH), is 863,957 or about 29% of the state’s 2.976 million residents. The positivity rate (positive results to tests, seven-day average) was 6.3% Sunday according to Johns Hopkins University. The national rate is 5.1%, and 5% or lower indicates adequate testing.

The total number of outbreaks in long-term care facilities is 128 Thursday. About 40.4%, or 1,273, of the state’s total deaths were people in long-term care facilities.

A total of 25 deaths in Warren County were residents of LTC facilities.

MSDH is no longer reporting outbreaks in individual long-term care facilities in Mississippi and has replaced it with access to a database from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. You can access and search the data here. The latest data available is for the week ending Sept. 27.

For additional information, visit the MSDH website.

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COVID-19

Alabama’s coach Nick Saban and Greg Byrne test positive for COVID-19

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Nick Saban (photo courtesy UA Athletics)

University of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban and UA Athletic Director Greg Byrne have tested positive for COVID-19.

“I found out earlier this afternoon that I had tested positive for COVID-19,” Saban said Wednesday in statement from the university. “I immediately left work and isolated at home. At this time, I do not have any symptoms relative to COVID, and I have taken another PCR test to confirm my diagnosis.”

Byrne also released a statement Wednesday.

“Today, I received notice that my COVID-19 test from this morning came back positive,” Byrne said. “Upon hearing the news, I immediately entered self-isolation and will remain at home and follow all guidelines. We’ve been diligent about mask wearing and social distancing from the start and want to continue to encourage you all to take the necessary precautions to help stop the spread of this virus for yourself and those around you.”

No. 2 Alabama is set to play No. 3 Georgia Saturday. Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian will fill in as interim head coach during Saban’s absence.

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Vicksburg police arrest a knife-wielding suspect for meth possession

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Joshua Lisk (photo courtesy VPD)

A knife-wielding South Carolina man was arrested Wednesday in Vicksburg.

Police officers responded to a report of a man waving a large knife in the 3300 block of Clay Street. They found that Joshua Lisk, of Westminster, South Carolina, was in possession of methamphetamine.

Lisk appeared in Vicksburg Municipal Court Wednesday on charges of meth possession. Judge Penny Lawson set his bond at $50,000 and bound him over to the Warren County grand jury.

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