HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WHLT) – Forrest General Hospital will have new guidelines in place as COVID-19 cases continue to increase in Mississippi due to the Delta variant. The new policies are listed below:

  • There will be a limit of two visitors a day per patient
  • All hospital staff not vaccinated will be required to wear either a KN95 or N95 mask

According to hospital leaders, the COVID-19 vaccine will not be mandatory for staff at Forrest General and the Hattiesburg Clinic. The new policies will go into effect in August 2021.

The rise in hospitalizations in Mississippi has some doctors concerned.

“From a hospital perspective and a physician’s perspective, I’m very concerned that the system of care in our state is going to have a hard time managing in the coming months with the number of patients we have,” said Dr. Steve Farrell, chief medical officer at Forrest General.

Dr. Bryan Batson, who is the chief medical officer at the Hattiesburg Clinic, said between May and June they’ve had 30 to 40 patients a week diagnosed with COVID-19 on average. This week, 469 patients were diagnosed with COVID-19. Batson said this is the highest COVID infection rate since January 2021.

“We are doing everything we can on the outpatient basis to keep up however with the significant spike in numbers over the last two weeks. We are having great difficulty in keeping up with the number of positive cases and trying to keep them out of the hospital,” he stated.

According to Batson, 85% of the cases they have seen recently are in those who are unvaccinated.