In his daily update on COVID -19 Monday, Gov. Tate Reeves said models predict a peak in the number of cases is less than two weeks away.
Calling the next few weeks dangerous and deadly, Reeves said the models “predict that we are approximately 12 days away from peak resource use, and that would be approximately April the 18th.”
The same models are predicting many fewer deaths than the 1,000 to 2,500 that Reeves spoke about on April 3. The models, from the University of Washington Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, predict Mississippi will see fewer than 250 deaths from the virus if full social distancing protocols are followed.
Regardless, the state does expect increased demand for hospital beds, and Mississippi is putting a plan into place to increase capacity.
“We could need at least 3,392 total beds for patients at our peak,” Reeves said, which is about 400 beds short of what the state has today.
Part of the plan is already underway. Hospital “decompression” has doctors cancelling elective surgeries to leave beds open for COVID-19 patients.
Another part of the plan is preparing alternate sites for patients. One such site is being prepared in North Mississippi, while in the southern part of the state, Camp Shelby will be put to use if necessary. Each site will provide about 200 additional hospital beds.
Reeves indicated that the plan’s goal is to prevent overloading the state’s health-care system “at the top of the curve.”
The governor also said that treatment for COVID-19 in a Mississippi hospital will not be charged. For the insured, most providers will be waiving fees related to the virus. Costs for uninsured patients will be covered by the federal government.
“In our state, we have faced more emergencies than most,” Reeves said. “We know we must prepare for the worst, pray for the best and expect something in between,”