Mississippi faces shortage of healthcare workers as cases surpass winter’s peak

Published 10:13 am Thursday, August 19, 2021

The number of Mississippi’s positive COVID-19 cases are surpassing the numbers reported in the winter, while hospitals experience a shortage of workers to staff beds and care for patients.

The Mississippi State Department of Health reports that there have been 4,807 more cases of COVID-19 in Mississippi, 21 deaths, and 180 ongoing outbreaks in long-term care facilities as of August 19. The state has a total of 401,201 cases, 7,937 deaths, and 1,094,152 persons fully vaccinated.

Lafayette County has 30 new positive cases and 3 new outbreaks in LTC facilities.

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“We are clearly at the worst part of the pandemic through out and it’s continuing to worsen,” said MSDH Sate Health Officer Thomas Dobbs. “We’ve passed the peaks by

Dobbs said he is happy to report that the state’s vaccination is increasing. Last week, over 71,000 vaccinations were administered and about 50,000 of those were first-time doses. The effects of this will show later in the fall, according to Dobbs.

“This is a critical first step in making sure we’re protecting these folks and it’s also going to help us suppress the transmission that’s been going on in a rampant manner throughout the state of Mississippi,” he said.

According to the MSDH, the rate of infection, hospitalization and death are significantly reduced once individuals are fully vaccinated. Their data shows that 98% of positive COVID cases, 89% of hospitalizations and 86% of deaths are in the unvaccinated.

Hospitals are currently reckoning with tight capacity and not enough healthcare workers to staff beds.

MSDH Senior Deputy and Director of Health Protection Jim Craig said 251 patients were waiting for emergency beds as of Wednesday morning and that 73 Mississippi hospitals requested over 1,451 staff members to treat patients.

“Staffing for hospitals remain critical around the state and we’re still nowhere near the staff we need for the beds we need,” he said.

If the hospitals receive the requested amount of workers, it will open up 771 medical and surgical beds and 235 ICU beds that are currently unstaffed.

The governor’s office and the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency are working to contract additional healthcare resource to assist in staffing projects.

For information on the Mississippi State Department of Health’s COVID-19 updates and recommendations, visit msdh.ms.gov/coronavirus.