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'Hospitals Are Full From Memphis to Natchez to Gulfport'

Hospital leaders say delta surge has pushed Mississippi system to breaking point
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 12, 2021 9:45 AM CDT
Hospital Leaders Say Mississippi System Could Fail in Days
A man carries power cables as he walks past an outstretched tent awning under assembly at a University of Mississippi Medical Center garage on Wednesday as the parking facility is converted into a field hospital in Jackson, Miss.   (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

(Newser) – Mississippi's hospital system is buckling under a record-breaking load of COVID infections, a University of Mississippi Medical Center official is warning. Dr. Alan Jones, UMMC's COVID response leader, said Wednesday that case numbers and hospitalizations have soared over the last week, and "if we continue that trajectory within the next five to seven to 10 days, I think we're going to see failure of the hospital system in Mississippi," per the Mississippi Free Press. "Hospitals are full from Memphis to Natchez to Gulfport. Hospitals are full." Federal authorities have sent health care workers to the state and are helping set up a field hospital in UMMC's parking garage. Mississippi has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country, and Gov. Tate Reeves says there are no plans to bring in a mask mandate.

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The governor—who hasn't held a press conference on the pandemic since April—said in a Facebook post on Wednesday that the "real challenge" is a shortage of health care workers, not hospital beds, but his administration is not "panicking," the Sun Herald reports. In Texas, which is also dealing with a surge in cases and a shortage of hospital beds and health care workers, Gov. Greg Abbott announced this week that he plans to bring in additional out-of-state medical personnel, reports the Houston Chronicle. He has also asked hospitals to delay elective procedures. Dr. Esmaeil Porsa, president of Harris Health System in Houston, tells CNN that the speed with which hospitals have filled up is frightening. If COVID numbers keep rising at the same rate, and "I don't see ... any mitigating interventions being put in place to try to slow this down, this would be a disaster," he says. (Read more coronavirus stories.)

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