Mississippi working to ramp up COVID testing and resource supports for hospitals
JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - We’re learning new information Wednesday on how health officials in the state are monitoring the latest COVID surge and moving resources to where they’re most needed.
COVID’s impact on the start of the school year has been a hot topic. State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers emphasizes that what you’re seeing happening in the schools is a direct reflection of the community spread.
“You know, one of my worries is that the more cases that we see, the more that’s going to translate into hospitalizations and, ultimately, more severe outcomes in those children,” said Byers. “We really need to make sure we get them vaccinated.”
And the state is back to square one on flexing resources to meet the demands that come along with increased case counts including the need for more testing.
“We have increased our testing sites and our hours and some of the state testing locations,” said MSDH Senior Deputy and Director of Health Protection Jim Craig. “We have ordered some additional rapid tests to come to the state of Mississippi. We did an emergency purchase of 300,000 more tests. So, we should have those hopefully in the state soon.”
We’re also learning new details on the request for staffing help at the state hospitals.
“Seventy-three hospitals requested over 1,451 personnel,” noted Craig. Those hospitals report that the additional staffing if we can figure out how to get that stuffing to them will open up 771 medical surge beds and 235 ICU beds that are currently unstaffed.”
Despite all these additional efforts, vaccines remain the number one priority.
“The Delta variant is highly contagious,” explained State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs. “It’s deadly. It’s taking your family members and we know that the vaccine can keep that from happening. Let’s be very clear, and I know it’s a hard reality, but most of these folks that we’re losing could’ve made it if they’d been vaccinated beforehand.”
A new state health officer’s order gives another tool to hospitals that are struggling with staffing shortages. It will allow certified paramedics and EMTs to provide care in hospital settings under medical direction.
Booster doses for immunocompromised patients should be available at county health departments starting Monday, August 23.
They will also soon have the online scheduler updated to answer questions about their immune status and make appointment for their third dose.
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