State officials are monitoring the strains on hospital capacity as COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to rise.

“The number of cases on a daily basis, the number of hospitalizations, the number of patients in ICU beds and ultimately the number of patients on ventilators is worse today than they have been at any time since March 11 when we received our first case,” Gov. Tate Reeves said during Monday’s coronavirus briefing. “Because of that, we’ve got to redouble our efforts.”

The state reported 1,251 new cases on Monday for the reporting day ended at 6 p.m. Sunday.

“We’ve had quite a run of days over 1,000, and we see no likely letup in that in the near future,” said State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs. “Any interventions that take place now are going to take weeks before any benefit is noted.”

Hospitalizations, he said, are “at the verge of really pushing the system over its capacity.” Nine hospitals across the state – generally larger facilities – currently have no ICU beds available. At the time of the briefing, there was one ICU bed available among the four Jackson metropolitan hospitals. Sixteen Mississippi hospitals have less than 10 percent of ICU beds available.

“We have now 943 confirmed coronavirus cases that are hospitalized and 293 coronavirus cases in intensive care,” said Dobbs. “That puts us looking at about 40 percent of all of our ICU cases have coronavirus. That’s a phenomenal number, and it continues to grow. Just Friday, it was only 31 percent.”

The number of in-patients being treated for COVID-19 continues to climb at Magnolia Regional Health Center and was 24 as of Monday afternoon. The number of positive cases in Alcorn County added 18 over the weekend for a total of 161 through 6 p.m. Sunday.

Dobbs said the Department of Health has found that there is a “large, popular independent urgent care chain” that is not reporting all of its positive cases.

“Even though we are seeing this huge number of cases, it’s not representing all of the positives out there,” he said. “All medical clinics please know, it is mandated by law that you report coronavirus cases to the department of health so we can investigate them.”

He also addressed a popular myth regarding the reported number of deaths – that coronavirus is being listed by cause of death even on people who die in car wrecks.

“We go back and validate that they have a positive test,” he said. “Positive testing is the foundation of our reporting. There is no goosing of the numbers with deaths.”

The governor expanded the stricter social distancing orders, including a mask mandate, to 10 additional counties, bringing the total to 23. None are in the immediate area.

He is encouraging all residents to wear a face mask in public.

“We want to make these decisions to do these little things now so we don’t have to get back to the point where we’re shutting down private businesses, which is something I am adamantly opposed to,” said Reeves.

Staff Writer

Jebb Johnston is a 1991 Alcorn Central High School graduate and a 1995 Ole Miss journalism graduate. His primary beats are city and county government.

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