Wednesday, July 15, 2020
UPDATE: Shortly after press time, the Mississippi State Department of Health released numbers from July 14. MSDH reports 1,025 new cases of COVID-19 statewide, another near-peak number at a time when the state's hospital system is already under siege. Accompanying the report came a wave of increased hospitalization statistics: with 825 Mississippians currently in the state's hospitals with confirmed cases of COVID-19, 274 more with suspected cases, 240 in the state's critically limited intensive care units, and 132 on ventilators. Each of these metrics is a new peak. Based on State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs' estimations at yesterday's press conference, July 14's 1,025 new cases are expected to result in 174 additional hospitalizations.
Mississippi’s hospital system is experiencing an unprecedented spike in coronavirus cases, with more than 120 newly confirmed hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients in the period between July 11 and 14. The rapid spike comes only weeks after State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs’ stark warnings of an overwhelmed hospital system, and clinicians, doctors, and nurses across the state are reaching out to warn of swelling numbers, long wait times and difficulty transferring patients to the necessary care.
As of press time, the Mississippi State Department of Health has yet to announce yesterday’s case report. Even more concerning to state health leadership than the 811 seven-day rolling average of new cases are the rising hospitalization metrics: 78 of the 240 COVID-19 patients currently in Mississippi intensive care units were admitted over a nine-day period, with yesterday’s additional growth not yet available.
Dobbs explained at yesterday’s COVID-19 press event that such a spike was inevitable, the consequence of rampant spread of the virus across the state in recent weeks. “We're seeing a pretty rapid increase consistent with our predictions. We know when you have cases, you'll have people who get sick, and hospitalizations—17%, more or less, of cases will end up hospitalized,” Dobbs explained.
“So every time we add 500 new cases, you can predict we're going to have another 85 hospitalizations associated with that. It's just going to keep compounding.”
As cases spike across Mississippi, sources in hospitals around the state confirmed to the Jackson Free Press what The New York Times reported yesterday: that hospitals are not reporting new COVID-19 data to the Centers for Disease Control, but directly to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, where the data will be less accessible than the public CDC reporting system.
That change comes on the same day that Vice President Mike Pence assured the public that “we don’t want CDC guidance to be a reason why people don’t reopen their schools.”
Long-term care facilities, too, are experiencing a new surge in COVID-19 outbreaks. Across the state, 130 different facilities have active coronavirus outbreaks, placing the state’s nursing homes and care institutions in a treacherous position as the state’s hospital system is pushed to the brink.
Read the JFP’s coverage of COVID-19 at jacksonfreepress.com/covid19. Get more details on preventive measures here. Email state reporter Nick Judin at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @nickjudin.