Surge in COVID-19 cases, lack of healthcare workers plagues Mississippi

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DESOTO COUNTY, Miss. — Mississippi hospitals are being pushed to capacity as COVID-19 cases surge across the state. The problem is plaguing Desoto County where, as of Tuesday, there were no ICU beds available at either of the county’s hospitals.

The issue is so dire that DeSoto County leaders are asking state officials for a field hospital to handle the overflow of patients. The Landers Center might serve as a possible location.

Officials with the Mississippi State Department of Health say they’re aware of the request but claim it’s a tall order because they don’t have enough healthcare workers to staff a field hospital. It’s a problem existing hospitals are already dealing with.

“Our real priority right now has to be to make sure we have staffing for those beds that are in brick and mortar hospitals that we’re just not able to staff right now,” Jim Craig with the state department of health said, “We need to keep as many people as possible within the hospital but we are exploring whether or not we can come up with some staffing to see about assisting in Desoto County with a field hospital.”

Officials say 73 hospitals across the state are requesting more than 1,000 additional workers to handle the surge in patients with more than 4,000 new cases reported Wednesday.

As of Wednesday morning, officials say 251 Mississippians were waiting for a bed in an emergency room as the dangerous Delta variant continues to spread.

“The Delta is a different animal,” Mississippi Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said.

That “animal” can largely be tamed by getting vaccinated, he said.

“Let’s be clear and I know it’s a hard reality. Most of these folks that we’re losing in these coming days could have made it if they’ve been vaccinated beforehand,” Dobbs said.

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