BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - This past year has been a difficult one for everyone. While the pandemic continues to evolve, it looks like we’re finally turning a corner, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to let down our guard.
Numbers are down and that’s great. In fact, rather than focusing on new case numbers, now most of the focus has shifted to vaccination numbers.
While that brings a sense of relief, testing for new cases continues to be a huge part of this battle.
”I didn’t think it would go on this long,” said family nurse practitioner Makeva Reed.
Reed has been part of the drive-through testing effort since it started a year ago.
“It has been mentally draining. It really has, but our workers come to work every day smiling and we try to make it fun,” she said.
Healthcare workers have been put to the test.
“Seeing so many sick people and working so hard to keep people out of the ICU and still losing people despite all your best efforts,” recalled Anne Musgrove.
Musgrove, an advanced practice manager and nurse practitioner, said now it’s a much brighter picture. An empty drive-through site is a sign that numbers are trending in the right direction.
“It’s still strange to drive up and not see cars lined up all the way around the building to Automall Parkway,” Musgrove said.
The Memorial Hospital testing site in D’iberville is only seeing about 30 people a day getting tested now compared to 200 a day at the peak in January.
“For a year they have weathered the heat, and the cold, and you know how extreme both of those can be in South Mississippi,” Musgrove said.
Musgrove said her healthcare team has gone above and beyond, and now the factors driving the case numbers down are bringing a much-needed sense of relief.
“Vaccinations, awareness, maybe some innate immunity because so much of the population has experienced COVID,” she said.
Not only are they seeing much lower numbers getting tested, but she said the positivity rate has also dropped from 14% to 6%, but she warns people not to get complacent.
“We’re still seeing pretty sick patients. Just because numbers are down doesn’t mean people aren’t getting it,” Musgrove said.
That’s why they say it’s important for people to get vaccinated and to continue to take precautions.
“You should wear a mask. Even if you’re vaccinated, wear a mask,” Reed said.l
Musgrove said they’re continuing to watch the trends and they’ll likely make some adjustments to their testing sites as they move forward.