LAUREL, Miss. (WDAM) - COVID-19 cases in Mississippi continue to rise while hospitalizations are increasing as well.
During a Tuesday news conference, State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said restrictions on elective procedures would be put in place for several counties to keep hospital beds open. The restrictions apply to Forrest, Jones, Hinds, Rankin, Madison and Washington counties.
“The health order applies to those elective procedures that would require overnight hospital stays,” said Dr. Mark Horne of South Central Regional Medical Center in Laurel.
Horne said the hospitals have seen an increase in patients due to COVID-19 on top of their usual amount of patients.
“I guess our hospital usually runs between 50-70% capacity and that leaves us room for surge, but COVID is soaking up that surge capacity,” Horne said.
This leaves the hospital little room to take on a rush of new patients.
“We need that surge capacity for when bad things happen, a bad flu outbreak or a bad wreck, several people who happen to have strokes or heart attacks,” Horne said. “So we have to maintain that surge capacity and that’s the concern statewide.”
Horne said people aren’t helping hospitals by keeping the case load down.
“We’re not keeping the case load down because we’re not doing simple things like washing our hands, wearing a mask and avoiding these large gatherings that people seem to be unable to resist,” Horne said.
If COVID-19 hospitalizations surge further, it could push hospitals to the limit.
“We are very concerned that we could surpass the ability to take care of these things,” Horne said. “Now, we haven’t hit that time yet, but we’re skirting right at the edge.”
Horne stressed the importance of wearing a mask, social distancing and avoiding gatherings as a way to slow the spread and keep hospitalizations down.