SOUTHAVEN, Miss. – Mississippi is getting help from the federal government as COVID hospitalizations overwhelm hospitals.
Just 10 ICU beds were free in the entire state as of Wednesday morning. Almost 1,400 people are on ventilators.
“I kind of personally feel like I’m an air traffic controller and every day I’m watching two airliners collide,” said Dr. Thomas Dobbs with the Mississippi State Department of Health.
Tuesday, the state recorded another 3,163 Covid cases. For every 1,000 cases, health officials say 70 to 80 people end up as hospital patients, and there’s currently nowhere for them to go.
“It’s not a matter of not having enough beds throughout the state. It’s a matter of not having enough staff to staff those beds,” said Jim Craig, senior deputy of the state health department.
To help alleviate the situation, the federal government is sending medical staff to help man a 50-bed field hospital in Jackson, which is set to open Friday.
But state health experts fear those beds will be taken in no time.
And unlike at the start of the pandemic, they say most new hospital patients are under the age of 50, which they attribute to greater vaccination rates among the elderly.
In Mississippi, 71 percent of people over the age of 65 have been vaccinated.
Conversely, only 43 percent of people over the age of 18 have been vaccinated. This lags behind the national rate of 61 percent.
In the last two weeks, 25 people have died from Covid in Mississippi. Two of those deaths were in DeSoto County.