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Reeves: ‘Our hospital system is stretched to pain’



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

In his live update Wednesday, Gov. Tate Reeves emphasized once again the dire circumstances in Mississippi due to the sharply rising numbers of new COVID-19 cases.

“Our hospital system is stretched to pain,” Reeves said before providing statistics about the pandemic in the state.

The governor’s criteria for putting a county under a mask mandate included having 200 or more new cases within a 14-day period, from June 30 to July 13, or having more than 500 new cases for every 100,000 residents.

“Hinds County had 873 cases over those two weeks,” Reeves said in an effort to provide perspective for his decision to recently mandate masks and other precautionary restrictions in 23 Mississippi counties. “Desoto County had 698 cases over those two weeks. Harrison County 436. Jackson 407. Rankin 355. So, each of those counties were almost or above what the limit would have been to put them on alert and a mask mandate.”

“The spread of the virus is bad,” he added.

The past week has seen only one day where the number of new COVID-19 cases in Mississippi was below 1,000. The seven-day average is 1,215 cases per day.

Reeves said that in the West Central Region of Mississippi — “basically Jackson and a few other hospitals” — has 272 intensive care beds. “Today, we have two ICU beds available.”

“Today would be a really bad day to have a car wreck in Jackson,” he said, adding that the problem isn’t limited to the Jackson area. Twenty hospitals in other regions are unable to accept ICU patients.

Both the governor and state Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs implored Mississippians not to gather in large groups, to wear masks in public, practice social distancing and use increased hygiene.

You can watch the entire update on our Facebook page.

In a Facebook post later Wednesday afternoon, Reeves reiterated some of the points he made during his live update:

There are some people who seem determined not to believe any COVID-19 data—“It’s all fake.” I think that group is actually pretty small. Most people are reading, examining, and trying to stay informed. There’s lots out there. For transparency, here’s the numbers we’re looking at:

‪In the last two days we’ve had 3,182 cases reported. In Mississippi, our hospitalization rate is about 17%. That’s about 541 hospitalizations. Right now, we have 942 Mississippians hospitalized total. And our hospital system is already stressed.

Several Mississippi hospitals have zero ICU beds available now. They are being forced to cancel money-making elective procedures.

‪I see a lot of people pointing to the high survival rate with COVID-19. That’s an important data point to consider. But the risk has always been to our health care system. As beds fill up, no patient gets the care they need—Coronavirus, heart attack… Overwhelmed is overwhelmed.

‪We can surge capacity—but not to the point of success if cases continue climbing this quickly. I’m pushing hospitals to do more, but there’s a finite number of good doctors. You don’t want an intern handling your heart attack because the rest of the staff is overwhelmed.

‪You may think that getting COVID-19 is no big deal unless you’re elderly. It’s not just about you being tougher than COVID. Right now, there are two ICU beds available in the entire area surrounding Jackson. It’s a bad day for a car wreck in central MS. That affects us all.

I’m sure people can make numbers say anything. But I’m telling you: several hospitals in Mississippi are turning patients away because they are full. This isn’t a theory any more. It’s happening.

‪I have ZERO incentive to spread fear about this virus. It loses us money, makes my job harder, and puts me in a terrible spot. It’s never popular to ask people to sacrifice. There is only one reason for me to share these graphic warnings: trying to prevent mass death.

Please wear a mask to prevent more spread. Avoid large social gatherings. Just be smart, and do little things. All the evidence says it makes a difference if people just make an effort. Nothing is a magic solution, but everything helps.

Reeves will hold another live update Thursday at 2:30 p.m.

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