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Mississippi has flattened the COVID-19 curve, governor says



governor reeves
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves in a news conference April 20. (Photo via video screen capture)

In a news conference Monday, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves indicated he believes the state has crossed the line to “flattening the curve” of the COVID-19 crisis.

Reeves based the statement on a decrease in the number of critical hospitalizations from the virus, which was the goal of his statewide shelter-in-place order issued earlier this month—to prevent overwhelming the state’s health-care system.

“It’s a consistent trend,” Reeves said.

Looking at patients in intensive care, the number has dropped from its peak of 210 on April 8 to 146 on April 19. Similarly, the number of patients requiring ventilators has gone from 128 on April 7 to 89 on April 19.

The total number of patients hospitalized with the virus has climbed, however. From a low of 244 people on April 12, hospitalizations have steadily climbed since then to 359 on April 19. There are also 189 patients with suspected but unconfirmed cases hospitalized.

(Image source: MSDH)

Mississippi’s hospitalization peak was “not nearly as high or not nearly as steep” as other areas of the country, Reeves said, calling it a plateau created by “adequate management” of the crisis.

“That plateau is at a level where our health-care system is not stretched,” he said, adding that he is confident the system will not be overwhelmed.

Mississippi has had one of the highest rates of hospitalizations from the virus for weeks. Nationally, the average hospitalization rate is 20 per 100,000, according to the CDC. For those over 65, the rate is 63.8 per 100,000. In Mississippi, the average rate has been hovering near 30% for weeks, with a steep decrease from 27% to 23% on Tuesday.

In a previous news conference, Reeves put the blame on the state’s high hospitalization rate on the poor overall health of Mississippians. The state has long had some of highest rates of obesity, diabetes and other health issues in the country, and that poor record is reflected in the people who are dying from COVID-19. Almost all of Mississippians dying from the virus have underlying health conditions that make them more vulnerable to the disease.

Those rates are disproportionately affecting African Americans in Mississippi and elsewhere in the country. More than half of the state’s cases and nearly 64% of deaths are among African Americans, although tatewide, African Americans make up about 37.5% of all Mississippians.

The governor praised the Mississippi State Department of Health for number of COVID-19 tests done in the state, about 18,000 per million in population.

“We made the decision early on that we wanted to test to our maximum capacity,” Reeves said, calling it “a real success story for Mississippi.”

“That doesn’t mean we’re testing enough people,” he added.

Reeves will continue to hold Facebook live news conferences on the crisis at 2:30 p.m. this week. You can watch them on the Vicksburg Daily News Facebook page

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