JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - For weeks, amid steadily increasing coronavirus cases and a vulnerable health care system, Gov. Tate Reeves and the state’s health officer have been pleading with Mississippians to wear masks and practice social distancing.
While many on social media said increased cases came from more testing -- a talking point President Trump also used to describe U.S. coronavirus cases during his campaign rally in Oklahoma -- family physician Dr. Jennifer Bryan said that’s not always the case.
“Certainly we know when you test more, you find more, but we’re outpacing that with the level of morbidity and access in the health care system,” Dr. Bryan said.
State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs posted a graph a few days ago on Twitter showing more cases in Mississippi despite fewer tests, which indicates infections are increasing.
“His warnings to the public and to us have been very graphic and I believe them. To my fellow Mississippians, we all need to believe them,” Reeves said during a press briefing Wednesday.
That same day, Mississippi saw its highest number of hospitalizations from COVID-19: 579.
Dr. Dobbs said that number is even more dire because, if a patient gets worse, they wind up in the ICU, which is not a short stay in most cases.
“It takes weeks and weeks of care to support someone long enough so their body can recover. But so many bad things happen. Kidneys fail, people can have strokes, infections, that sort of thing. And so, it’s a real challenge. Having someone who’s that sick for so long eats up an ICU bed for that period of time and it makes that capacity issue so much more acute,” Dr. Dobbs said.
Mississippi’s seven-day average of new cases also reached a new high point Wednesday, indicating that the number of new cases continues to increase week over week.
Right now, data from the Mississippi State Department of Health indicates 20 to 29 year olds are seeing the biggest increase in coronavirus cases.
Dr. Dobbs said he’s worried those infections will end up hitting older folks, which will in turn further tax the state’s hospital system.