Healthcare system as COVID cases level but health official worry for the winter

Published 1:43 pm Monday, November 1, 2021

As the year winds down, COVID-19 cases are stabilizing at an average of 460 confirmed cases, 296 hospitalizations and 12.1 COVID-19 related deaths per day; majority of these individuals are unvaccinated.

The Mississippi State Department of Health is reporting 493 more cases of COVID-19, 23 deaths, and 29 ongoing outbreaks in long-term care facilities. The state has a total of 504,811 cases and 10,098 deaths, and 1,377,363 persons have been fully vaccinated.

According to State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs, Mississippi’s healthcare system is in pretty good shape and it’s intensive care unit capacity is improving.

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“Our routine report does show that we have adequate hospital capacity,” said Dobbs. As of Oct. 28, Mississippi hospitals have admitted 215 patients with confirmed COVID-19 infection, 14 patients with suspected COVID-19 infection, 85 COVID-19 patients in an intensive care unit and 46 COVID-19 patients on ventilators.

However, the stabilizing COVID-19 numbers do not placate health officials who are worrying about the winter challenges that the nation will face very soon.

“We know that we’re likely to see additional flu cases coming and we know that a lot of the times that flu admissions can stress the health system,” said Dobbs. “If we have COVID at the same time that we also have a limited hospital staffing because so many [healthcare workers] have left, it could really difficult.”

Health officials anticipate more vaccinations and booster doses will be given in the upcoming weeks.

“A lot of our doses we administer each week are boosters and that is important, but we still have more than 50% of our total population that hasn’t been fully vaccinated yet,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers.

Mississippi is among the least vaccinated states in the nation with only 46% of the population fully vaccinated. However, vaccination numbers are expected to increase with the Institutions of Higher Learning Board of Trustees mandate requiring employees to be fully vaccinated by Dec.8.

The mandate was ordered in response to an executive order from President Joe Biden’s administration, which requires employees of federal contractors get the COVID-19 vaccine.