JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Mississippi’s top state health officials discussed the severity of COVID-19 at UMMC on Thursday morning.
“We are seeing in Mississippi, an increase in the number of cases. We are seeing an increase in the number of deaths. We are seeing an increase in the number of hospitalizations,” UMMC Vice Chancellor LouAnn Woodard said.
Woodward said these numbers are not the direction Mississippi should be going to prevent the spread of the deadly virus.
"And you don't have to be a healthcare professional to know that this is not good news. These are not the trends that we want to see. This is not the way we want to see the state going. This is not the right direction."
Woodward stated that there was more concern at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. She said that Governor Tate Reeves’ shelter-in-place order helped to slow the spread, however as the state has reopened, the number of cases has surged.
“As we have eased up and as we have opened up, we are seeing much more rapid spread of the virus across our state. In fact, right now, we are having our largest surge of patients.”
Dr. Thomas Dobbs was also one of the leaders who spoke. He said the increase in numbers is not a surprise as they had been discussing it for weeks.
“We’ve had a steady increase in coronavirus cases, deaths, hospitalizations over the past several weeks. Which is not a surprise. We’ve been talking about this for weeks saying it’s coming and here it is. And not only is it here, it’s going to get worse.”
Dobbs stated that five of the biggest hospitals in the state have no intensive care unit beds available.
“Yesterday, five of our biggest hospitals in the state had zero ICU beds. Zero. An additional four had 5% or less. An additional three had less than 10%. The biggest medical institutions who take care of our sickest patients have no room to take care of additional folks.”
Due to this increase, he says that local hospitals are having to send people out of state for treatment.
“We’re sending people out of state all the time because Mississippi hospitals cannot take care of Mississippi patients.”
He’s encouraging hospitals to create surge plans. The plans encourage hospitals to not perform elective surgeries or have elective hospitalizations.
Dr. Anita Henderson spoke on behalf of the pediatricians about plans for school next month.
“The pediatricians in the state want our children to be physically present in school this fall. In order for that to happen, we have to find safe and effective ways of getting them back to school. So, we have about one month to get things under control in order for our children to get to school.”
She stated that pediatricians throughout the state are working with school districts to figure out the best plans.
Dr. Dobbs also encouraged parents to discuss with their children’s’ school districts on the best practices for a safe return to school.