Those who are employed at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences believe they’re witnessing the hospital reverting toward when it was at the start of 2020 because a surge of new Covid-19 cases has arrived and beds are becoming scarce. In the next two weeks, covid hospitalizations statewide are projected to triple. That would mean a return to the chaos that preceded the crisis when resources, staffing, and elective operations were strained and there seemed no end in sight.
The Surge In Covid Cases In The South Has Not Been Seen For Months
Dr. Steppe Mette, the CEO of the university’s Little Rock Medical Center, said that if that happens, it will surpass last winter’s figures. Six weeks ago, there were eight Covid cases at the hospital, Mette said, but it now treats 57 cases, up from eight cases on Monday. The situation is grave, he said. We are on surge mode at the moment, but right now we are managing fine. Due to demand, we’re placing patients in places they wouldn’t ordinarily be placed.
A startling rise in new Covid cases has been reported in nearly every state. Unfortunately, in some parts of the South, including Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Tennessee, the highly contagious delta variant is being blamed, along with lax or anti-vaccination attitudes. Covid cases are expected to spike in some hospitals for the first time in months.
Over the weekend, Dobbs warned that intensive care beds are getting tight again, with zero beds available in 11 major facilities. Statewide, there are now 138 ICU beds available (a decrease from March). Similarly, the number of cases of Covid in Mississippi hospitals rose to 369 over the weekend, a number not seen since March, with more than a third of the patients in intensive care. As of 3 weeks ago, over 200 percent more patients were hospitalized due to Covid.
The state is reporting a threefold increase in the number of new Covid cases, averaging 800 new cases a day, over last weekend and the same period a week ago. Dr. Dobbs explained this in an interview on “SuperTalk Mississippi” on Monday. The number of Covid-related deaths may have been three last week, but as more data is gathered this number is likely to rise, and that more than 90 percent of these people had not been vaccinated.
Despite Gov. Tate Reeves, a Republican, lifting the ban early this year after saying “hospitalizations have plummeted, and vaccines are being distributed rapidly,” Dobbs argued mask-wearing and avoiding social gatherings are still necessary.
The Mississippi Department of Health has published new recommendations this month to help prevent the spread of the delta variant, such as avoiding indoor mass gatherings regardless of vaccination status and requiring everyone 12 and older to receive the Covid vaccine.
NBC News analyzed federal health data to determine that Mississippi has the lowest vaccination rate in the country – less than 34 percent – aside from Alabama. In addition to Arkansas, Louisiana, Georgia, and Tennessee have lagging vaccination rates of 35, 36, 37, and 38 percent respectively.
UMC in Jackson has increased isolation rooms and converted other rooms into “Covid treatment bays” — an indication that the situation is worsening and the number of patients returning is returning to what it was a year ago, stated the emergency response management chief.
Five adults were in the ICU of 55 patients hospitalized after being diagnosed with Covid-19 or suspected to have the disease. Covid confirmed the presence of two ICU patients among seven children diagnosed. It announced Thursday that all employees would be required to have a vaccination or wear an N95 mask if on the hospital’s property.
In addition to cases in the South, the Delta variant has caused surges elsewhere. Recent data shows that new confirmed cases in California jumped 225 percent over the last two weeks, where the vaccination rate is over 60 percent. Covid-19 vaccines are highly safe and effective in studies. They remain a source of misinformation, especially among conservatives and in rural areas.
Republican politicians portray health leaders as enemies, attempting to suppress cases. The governor of Florida is selling merchandise with the message, “Don’t Fauci My Florida.” In Missouri, the governor of that state believes some health officials are trying to scare people into getting vaccinated. Republican anger over her attempt to get teens vaccinated led to the firing of the Tennessee vaccine official.
To end an epidemic, there need to be more people vaccinated, according to Mette. It may take one-on-one discussions or the deterioration of the Covid crisis in the state before attitudes change, he said, and mandating vaccinations will only deepen the divide.
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