Dobbs: Delta Variant Spike Endangering Medical Capacity in Mississippi | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Dobbs: Delta Variant Spike Endangering Medical Capacity in Mississippi

State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs is warning that the fast-increasing delta variant is growing fast and taxing health-care capacity throughout Mississippi.This week saw has seen 1,800 daily cases on average, a sharp increase in which hospitalizations and deaths may take weeks to fully realize. Photo courtesy State of Mississippi.

State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs is warning that the fast-increasing delta variant is growing fast and taxing health-care capacity throughout Mississippi.This week saw has seen 1,800 daily cases on average, a sharp increase in which hospitalizations and deaths may take weeks to fully realize. Photo courtesy State of Mississippi.

Mississippi’s health-care system is under increased strain as the fourth wave of COVID-19 continues to add increased hospitalizations and intensive-care unit patients every week. The Mississippi State Department of Health reported the largest single day of cases this morning since early January with 2,821 new cases and seven deaths. Long-term care facility outbreaks are also continuing to grow, with the latest report of 134 individual outbreaks.

State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs’ concerns for the state’s health-care capacity underscores the rolling weekly average of more than 1,800 daily cases. Mississippi is seeing upwards of 130 hospitalizations per day now, “far exceeding our hospital's capacity to take care of them” Dobbs said in an update video posted to Twitter yesterday.

Those hospitalized tend to be younger now than last year, MSDH data shows. One-third of patients hospitalized with the delta strain are under 40 years of age, a much greater proportion than in 2020.

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Starting in May, the delta variant quickly took over as the leading strain across the country. The more contagious strain is resulting in a much quicker spike in cases and hospitalizations, potentially overwhelming Mississippi’s health-care capacity. Photo courtesy MSDH

“With the previous part of the pandemic it was mostly older folks, but now we're seeing more and more people who are in younger age groups, and these are people who are very seriously ill in the ICU on life support,” Dobbs said via Twitter. “Sadly, many of these folks may not make it out of the hospital.”

Emergency-room visits are at an all-time high since the beginning of the pandemic, and Dobbs warned that patients may not get the care they expect due to the strain on health-care workers.

“It's as bad as it's ever been right this very moment, and it's getting worse quickly,” Dobbs said in an Aug. 2 interview with the Mississippi Free Press. “Our challenge is that it's already bad, but our staffing is more challenged. We have a lot less nurses.”

Dobbs noted that the state has lost 2,000 nurses to burnout over the past seven months. “This is a problem that transcends COVID. We are understaffed in nurses and have been for a long time,” Dobbs said. “It's just that much worse right now, and the timing is bad.”

Dobbs noted that an overwhelming number of hospitalizations are of unvaccinated individuals.

“Ninety-seven percent of all new cases are in the unvaccinated,” Dobbs said on MFP Live. “If we look at hospitalizations, 89% of hospitalizations are in the un-vaccinated and 85% of deaths are in the unvaccinated. As you can see within this 15%, these are folks who were vaccinated, but by and large, these are older individuals and people who have weakened immune systems, and we're still working to see what we can do to promote and make booster doses available so that we can help prevent some of these very, very sad losses of life.”

Email Reporting Fellow Julian Mills at [email protected].

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