Mississippi’s top health official, Dr Thomas Dobbs III, tweeted Monday that a “4th wave” of the virus had hit the state, although it “didn’t have to be.”
Dobbs warned over the weekend that beds in intensive care units were “getting tight again” and that 11 large intensive care facilities across the state had no beds available. The number of adult intensive care beds available statewide (138) is the lowest since March, according to state health data.
Meanwhile, cases of confirmed Covid patients in Mississippi hospitals reached 369 over the weekend, a number also unheard of since March, with around 34% of patients currently in intensive care. Over the past three weeks, the state has been grappling with a more than 200% increase in the number of hospitalized Covid patients.
Dobbs told the “SuperTalk Mississippi” radio show on Monday that almost all new cases of Covid can be traced to the delta variant, and the state reports a threefold increase in the number of new cases from Friday to Sunday compared to at the same time a week earlier, with an average of about 800 new cases per day.
“It’s all age groups, but we’re seeing a lot of growth in kids, teens and then young adults because the summer has opened, our vaccination rates, our immunity rates are really low in the world. this group of people, “Dobbs said, adding his state has seen” a phenomenal increase in healthy, mostly healthy 40-year-olds in intensive care, on ventilators and dying. “
While only three Covid-related deaths were reported over three days last week, Dobbs said he expected the number to increase as new data arrives, and more than 90% of those to die had not been vaccinated against the disease.
Dobbs remained a strong supporter of mask wearing and avoiding social gatherings in his state, even when Gov. Tate Reeves, a Republican, ended pandemic restrictions in early March after saying that “hospitalizations and the number of cases have dropped, and the vaccine is being rapidly distributed. “
But this month, the Mississippi Department of Health announced new recommendations to help prevent the spread of the delta variant, calling on residents 65 and older to avoid mass gatherings indoors regardless. their vaccination status and all residents 12 years of age and over to receive a Covid vaccine.
Mississippi’s rate of fully vaccinated people is less than 34% – the lowest in the country outside of Alabama, according to federal health data analyzed by NBC News. Other states with lagging vaccination rates include Arkansas at 35 percent, Louisiana at 36 percent, Georgia at 37.5 percent, and Tennessee at 38 percent.
At the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, the hospital is increasing its isolation rooms and converting other rooms to ‘Covid treatment bays’ – signaling that the situation is worsening and the number of cases goes back to a level observed a year ago. Dr Jonathan Wilson, hospital administrative director and incident manager for the Covid response, said on Monday.
Of the 55 people hospitalized at the medical center after being diagnosed with Covid-19 or suspected of having the disease, five adults were in intensive care. In addition, two of the seven children confirmed with Covid were in intensive care.
On Thursday, the hospital announced that all employees are required to be vaccinated or wear an N95 mask if they are on its property, a policy being phased in over three months.
“We care for the sickest patients you can imagine, from geriatric patients to neonatal patients,” Wilson said in a statement. “There is just no room for error out there. We need to do what’s right for the patient, and the best thing we can do is get vaccinated. “
The delta variant was also responsible for surges in cases outside the South. In California, where the vaccination rate is over 60%, the number of new confirmed cases has increased by 225% in the past two weeks.
Studies have shown that Covid-19 vaccines are very safe and effective. But disinformation continues to cast doubt on them, especially in conservative and rural areas.
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, embarked on a statewide tour after assuming the presidency of the National Governors Association and urged the federal government to fully approve vaccines instead of an emergency clearance, saying that would answer one of the arguments. used by opponents that they may not be safe.
“Let me make sure it’s clear: I’m not asking you to trust the government,” Hutchinson said at a hearing in Texarkana last week, according to the Associated Press. “I ask you to watch, do your own research, talk to people you trust, and this is the right approach for me. “
The approach is different from that of other Republicans who present health executives as adversaries even as they try to pack cases.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis sold shirts and other merchandise bearing the “Don’t Fauci My Florida” logo. In Missouri, Gov. Mike Parson suggested some health officials were trying to scare people into getting vaccinated. In Tennessee, the top vaccine official was fired amid the GOP’s anger over its efforts to get adolescents vaccinated.
Mette, from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, said convincing more people to get vaccinated will be key to turning the tide against the increase in cases. But, he said, demanding vaccinations or making people feel guilty about getting vaccinated will only widen the gap, and that can take one-on-one conversations or the Covid crisis worsens. in his state before attitudes changed.
“People have heard our messages ad nauseam, but seeing patients who have trouble breathing and wanting them vaccinated can make a difference,” said Mette. “These are real people who get really sick. “