COVID-19 cases, daily hospitalizations surge to all-time highs despite warnings from state health experts

In this Nov. 24, 2020, file photo, registered nurse Chrissie Burkhiser puts on personal...
In this Nov. 24, 2020, file photo, registered nurse Chrissie Burkhiser puts on personal protective equipment as she prepares to treat a COVID-19 patient in the emergency room at Scotland County Hospital in Memphis, Mo. U.S. hospitals slammed with COVID-19 patients are trying to lure nurses and doctors out of retirement and recruiting nursing students and new graduates who have yet to earn their licenses.(AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)
Updated: Dec. 2, 2020 at 10:22 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Wednesday’s sobering surge in coronavirus cases, though expected, may not reflect the full impact of Thanksgiving gatherings and social events that took place across the state despite dire warnings from the governor and health department officials.

State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said Wednesday that thirteen major medical centers in the state have no intensive-care unit beds.

“We know that there’s a lot of pressure that’s going to be hitting us because of the Thanksgiving holidays,” Dobbs said. Some of that pressure has already begun with Wednesday’s announcement of 2,457 new reported cases, five days after Thanksgiving Day.

“The thing that’s additionally concerning right now, is we’re not at our peak. We’re rapidly ascending to a peak and no one knows what it’s going to be,” Dobbs said. “So we’re way higher with our daily case counts now, and our hospitalizations are growing at a rate that is absolutely terrifying.”

No one knows that more than the doctors and nurses at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. UMMC administrators maintain they had 765 patients at the 700-bed facility, meaning dozens would have to wait to receive care.

“What I fear that people do not understand, however, is that the resources are finite. They are finite,” said Dr. LouAnn Woodward, who serves as vice chancellor for health affairs at UMMC. “There gets to a point where we have to say, we don’t have another place to put another patient safely. We can’t do it.”

Woodward said on social media more than thirty people were still waiting on a bed because of the surge in COVID-19 and additional seasonal issues. At UMMC alone, at least 65 patients are battling coronavirus.

Dr. Alan Jones, the facility’s vice chancellor for clinical affairs, said in order to free up these resources, Mississippians have to stop letting their guard down because the situations where the virus transmits to people is changing.

“It’s not super spreader events or some of the things that we saw in the first [wave]. It’s smaller gatherings where people feel safe,” Jones said.

Dobbs said the health department has issued public health guidance telling everyone in the state to avoid any social gatherings outside their immediate family, including social events, in-person church services and sporting events.

Despite continued efforts to educate misinformation about the virus, the health department’s methods and vaccines keep surfacing.

During a Mississippi State Department of Health press conference to address the record number of COVID-19 cases Wednesday, a reporter revealed that a clinic director in north Mississippi claimed one person tested multiple times for coronavirus counts as multiple cases.

Dobbs’ frustration boiled over when he was told, initially, that the person making the claim was a doctor.

“What a bunch of bullcrap. I’m just telling you. How many times do I have to tell people? One person is a case. If he tests the person 3,000 times, it’s one case. Quit buying into crazy nonsense. This is dangerous. People are dying. Quit making that stupid excuse,” Dobbs said. “That makes me hot. We work in here all night long and people are making up BS. Unbelievable.”

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