Pine Belt community reacts to recent spike in COVID-19 cases

Coronavirus

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WHLT) – Forrest and Lamar counties are among those who have seen a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases.

Based on research into the numbers, most of the new cases are among the unvaccinated. Forrest General Hospital is among those feeling the strain.

“We physically don’t have rooms available, so we are stressed the numbers are through the roof, and we just don’t have enough beds, enough doctors and nurses to take care of the people that are ill,” said Forrest General Program Director Dr. Rambod Rouhbakhsh.

The numbers are not slowing down. More than 4,000 cases were reported Thursday and a record-high 5,000 cases were reported Friday.

“The numbers are worst than they’ve ever been over 4,000 cases reported in the state that’s the highest load ever, our ICU’s completely filled in. Not just Hattiesburg, but in the entire state,” said Dr. Rouhbakhsh.

There are hundred of cases already in the state’s schools. Lashontay Burkett has kids that attend Hattiesburg Public Schools, and she said a mask mandate would help to reduce the spread.

“Let’s stay home still treat it like we’re still in a pandemic, because we are. Keep your mask on continue to wash, sanitize and things that we need to do in order to get this behind us,” said Burkett.

More people are getting vaccinated, but some are still hesitant. Rob Williams owns a boxing club in Hattiesburg. He said he has mixed feelings with the vaccine.

“They’re saying now it’s safe how do you know? You think about the Tuskegee experiment now their experimenting on the whole world that’s my thought,” said Williams.

Some hospital systems across the state are adding mobile sites to help keep up with the overflowing number of patients– there’s talk of adding one in Hattiesburg.

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