Massive numbers of COVID-19 hospitalizations following the third spike of the virus are imperiling Mississippi’s hospital capacity, with no signs of decreased transmission coming. Graph courtesy MSDH
Mississippi’s third COVID-19 surge has reached its hospital system, where a flood of hundreds of new hospitalizations in a matter of days is definitive proof that the state is returning to the crisis-care standards of late summer.
Between Sunday and Wednesday, confirmed and suspected COVID-19 hospitalizations exploded from 766 to 948, a trend State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs warned yesterday was continuing through the week. “This is serious. Protect yourself, your family and the vulnerable people you love,” Dobbs tweeted.
The state health officer noted that roughly 60% of Mississippians are in a “vulnerable group,” whose age or health conditions could contribute to a dangerous case of COVID-19.
As hospitalizations march toward catastrophic numbers, rising daily reports of the virus continue unabated. Today, the Mississippi State Department of Health announced 1,395 new cases of COVID-19. The day before, that number was 1,593, the fifth-highest single-day report ever. Mississippi’s seven-day rolling average of new cases is now 1,161, compared to the first days of August, which preceded the heaviest death toll Mississippi has seen so far.
At a Nov. 12 MSDH press event, Dobbs warned that individual actions can cause massive suffering in the days to come. “We’re killing ourselves (with) social events. We’re still having parties and indoor events, and that’s a dangerous endeavor right now.”
Repeatedly, public-health officials have warned that indoor gatherings—social events and parties, eating indoors at restaurants and heavily attended church gatherings—are driving much of the spread in the state.
The state health officer also warned against the practice of relying on coronavirus tests to ignore gathering restrictions. “Testing is the absolute wrong approach to (allow events) in a big group. The White House outbreak demonstrated that you can’t test out of an outbreak,” Dobbs said.
Scientific studies increasingly support Dobbs’ warning. A study in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that “Over the 4 days of infection before the typical time of symptom onset (day 5), the probability of a false-negative result in an infected person decreases from 100% ... to 67%.”
In layman’s terms, this means that asymptomatic but still extremely virulent individuals in the early stages of COVID-19 infection are highly likely to receive a false negative result if given a test for the virus. This negative result in no way prevents them from being super-spreaders responsible for significant transmission of the virus to those around them.
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.