University of Mississippi Medical Center: Overwhelming Omicron surge creates unprecedented staff shortages

JACKSON, Miss. (WCBI) – The University of Mississippi Medical Center says the COVID-19 Omicron surge is redefining what “unprecedented” means when it comes to staff shortages.

Tuesday, UMMC released their latest hospitalization numbers, saying they currently have 125 COVID patients as of 8 p.m. In December, they say they only had 18 COVID patients. Before the pandemic, UMMC says they had an average of about 70 nurse openings. Now, they have 360.

“We’re dealing with a shifting enemy, and it’s changed the rules of the game,” says Dr. Alan Jones, vice chancellor for clinical affairs and UMMC COVID response leader. “The sheer volume of patients is what’s overwhelming.”

While their infectious disease experts say the Omicron variant tends to send fewer patients to the ICU than Delta, it is much more contagious.

During the Delta surge, UMMC says they saw five to 10 people a day at the Emergency Department with COVID symptoms. Now, Dr. Jones says that number has tripled.

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