MEMPHIS, Tenn. — As hospitals across the Mid-South are strained by the rising number of COVID patients, the governors of Arkansas and Mississippi on Tuesday addressed the crisis, and what help could be on the way in the Memphis area.
In Mississippi, Gov. Tate Reeves says more than 1,000 out-of-state medical workers are being deployed this week to help Mississippi hospitals.
Nurses, nurse practitioners, respiratory therapists and paramedics have been hired under 60-day contracts to help in 50 Mississippi hospitals.
“Having these staffing needs met will help to alleviate a portion of the strain on our health care system,” Reeves said.
But what about in DeSoto County where Baptist-DeSoto and Methodist Olive Branch hospitals have crowded ICUs?
“If those two hospitals in DeSoto County made those requests, then my gut is to tell you those needs will have been met no later than two or three days from today,” Reeves said.
The Army and the Air Force are also deploying medical teams to work in Mississippi. Forty-three members from each branch will assist as case numbers rise.
Dr. Paul Byers with the Mississippi State Health Department said the state reported 3,291 additional cases and 111 deaths.
“This is the highest total of deaths we had to date,” he said.
In Arkansas, Gov. Asa Hutchinson shared a similar message about COVID’s impact on the Natural State and hospitals. The governor called it a cautionary note for everyone in Arkansas.
“I was informed our ICU beds for COVID patients are full in Arkansas right now,” he said. “I share that because everybody should know that the strain that’s on our hospitals and the need to get our vaccinations and how critical our bed space is.”
The governor, along with state health director Dr. Jose Romero, also warned people not to use the drug Ivermectin for treating the virus.
Arkansas Poison Control has seen an increase in calls from people taken the drug normally used for large livestock.
“What’s we’re seeing across the South, not just our state, is veterinary grade Ivermectin is being taken by humans, and we’re seeing increased number of cases in adults and in children,” Romero said. “That’s ivermectin that’s intended for animal or livestock use and it’s not to be used for human consumption.”
Hutchinson also said Arkansas has seen a large increase in COVID cases in students and staff since the start of school.