State health leaders discuss the delta variant and how to slow the surge

COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI)- Mississippi State Department of Health reported 3,164 new cases of COVID-19 in a single day. State health leaders discuss the spread of the delta variant with hopes to slow the rise in numbers. During the fourth wave of COVID-19, the Delta variant brings higher numbers of infections leaving intensive care units with limited rooms to take in those with complications. But, like most situations, it’s going to get worse before it gets better. About three million people live in the state of Mississippi. There are 1,147 people in the hospital with COVID-19. 299 people are in ICU, and 150 are on ventilators. “We’re looking at some real pain points in the coming weeks. It’s just inevitable,” said State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs. As the Delta variant surges across the Magnolia State, state health leaders are addressing concerns. At the top of their list, ICU bed availability and nursing shortages. “It’s going to cause a lot of tragedy. I think it’s going to be a ten in a couple of weeks,” said Dr. Thomas Dobbs. “Right now, we have four children in ICU statewide,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers. “Right now, we only have eight beds available in the state, and that’s spread across four hospitals,” said Jim Craig, Senior Deputy, and Director of Health Protection. Medical centers are even using space in emergency rooms to treat ICU patients. “We’ve received reports from many of the hospitals and their leadership about insufficient staff to be able to staff all of the beds,” said Craig. And without nurses, hospitals need extra hands to cover units. “We can’t create new nurses overnight. I think this is a long-term challenge. I know there are staffing opportunities, and we’ll see what we can do to support that, but there is no easy solution. There’s no cavalry coming to bring in a new army of nurses to fill in. It’s just not there,” said Dobbs. President of North Mississippi Medical Center, Dr. David Wilson, says their healthcare system is no stranger to the shrinking numbers. “We have the opportunity to compare notes throughout our state and nation, and everyone is finding this immense shortage of healthcare personnel. Bed availability is not our primary issue. We need to staff them,” said Dr. Wilson. The experts agree; one thing can help, getting the shot. “We are where we are today because of the lack of vaccinations. We want the public to consider urging the public to get vaccinated. If not for themselves, do it for a family member. Do it for a loved one,” said Wilson. Dr. Dobbs says the state is amid the worst surge in numbers. Health leaders encourage the public to contact your local medical center to set up a free vaccination appointment or go to our website for pop-up locations over the next couple of weeks,

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