Mississippi health leaders discuss ICU capacity as COVID-19 cases increase in state


JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Leaders with the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) held a news conference on Wednesday to discuss the state’s record-breaking COVID-19 case numbers and ICU capacity.

Spaces in hospitals are running then. On Wednesday, leaders said 10 ICU beds were open in Mississippi, with 238 patients on hold in emergency rooms across the state.

Another issue is the lack of hospital staff. MSDH leaders said they’re working with the federal government to see what kinds of aid can be brought to Mississippi.

Sot: Jim Craig / MSDH Senior Deputy and Director

“Been working with the government, MEMA and the health department requested federal resources to assist and provide that medical staffing last night. And starting last night under the federal missions assignment, our partners at the Federal Veterans Administration has provided five ICU beds at the Biloxi VA and five ICU beds at the Jackson VA to place into rotation in the COVID system of care,” said Jim Craig, Senior Deputy and Director of Health Protection.

In addition, MSDH leaders also requested a federal clinical staff and that request is being fulfilled with a federal disaster medical team.

According the State Health epidemiologists Paul Byers, there has been a total of 80 outbreaks in 342 schools already this year with over 800 positive students and 300 positive teachers.  There’s also been 4,400 students and nearly 400 teachers that were exposed and had to quarantine. 

Health officials said they expected the first few weeks of school to be rocky because of the higher rate of transmission in community settings, but even with this challenge, they said the main solution is there. 

“It’s got a start with making recommendations for vaccination available. Everybody that’s eligible needs to get vaccinated. Consistent use of universal masking in indoor settings, regardless of vaccination status and wearing the mask right and consistently. And we know there are some challenges with that,” said Byers.

State health officials also said they are seeing an upward trend in cases, hospitalization and deaths of people in younger age groups 50 and below. Although the state has tripled its daily immunization rate compared to a month ago, there are still more than one million Mississippians who are unvaccinated.

“I just want to reiterate this point because it’s true and more obvious than ever, people are either going to get the vaccine or they are going to get COVID. And this Delta variance is so contagious, leading to so much death and misery that we really need to do everything we can to prevent this transmission. So please if you’re not vaccinated, please go ahead and get vaccinated, but know it’s going to take a few weeks for full immunization to be available for full protection,” Dobbs stated.

With a daily case average of 2,700, this is the state’s highest peak that we have seen since the start of the pandemic. 

Although the state has tripled its daily immunization rate compared to a month ago, there are still more than one million Mississippians who are unvaccinated.

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