More COVID-19 cases in Mississippi may mean mask mandates as ICU beds fill up, health official says

Coronavirus

DESOTO COUNTY, Miss. — Mississippi’s state health officer says more mask mandates could be on the horizon as COVID-19 cases continue to climb.

The warning comes after numbers released Monday showed six major hospitals — including Baptist DeSoto — had no available ICU capacity.

“I do think we’re on the front end of something that could be bad,” state health officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said.

From what he’s hearing from hospitals statewide, this is the tip of the iceberg.

“They’re all, over the weekend, telling me, ‘Hey, it’s starting to creep up, we’re getting busy, we don’t have space, we’re seeing more patients showing up in the ER with Covid-like symptoms,’” Dobbs said.

The health department’s COVID dashboard also showed eight patients in Baptist DeSoto’s ICU, and zero available staffed beds.

Baptist DeSoto sent WREG a statement saying:

“It’s important for people to understand that these numbers are just a snapshot of bed availability in our hospital at a particular time on a particular day. They change constantly as patients are admitted, moved to other units, and discharged. We submit these numbers between 10 and 11 every morning, but we’re discharging patients throughout the day.”

Baptist DeSoto is still admitting new patients, monitoring bed availability and following numerous safety protocols.

Dobbs said the state should be prepared for increased hospitalizations over the next several weeks. He stressed the importance of voluntarily wearing a face mask and practicing social distancing, warning what the  alternative could be.

“We may head back to having more and more ‘mandatory’ masks if we can’t do it voluntarily,” he said. “So if we can do things voluntarily I think that just makes so much more sense.”

Dobbs also said health officials will be issuing recommended guidelines for Halloween trick-or-treating, but encourages parents to continue following state and CDC guidelines.

The full statement from Baptist DeSoto is below.

It’s important for people to understand that these numbers are just a snapshot of bed availability in our hospital at a particular time on a particular day. They change constantly as patients are admitted, moved to other units, and discharged. We submit these numbers between 10 and 11 every morning, but we’re discharging patients throughout the day.

We also want to make sure everyone knows we can still admit new patients and care for the patients in our hospital. If you or a loved one needs emergency care, you can come here; our physicians and health care team are prepared to care for you.

We constantly monitor our bed availability, particularly now as we begin to see an increase in the number of COVID patients we’re treating. We’re following numerous safety protocols to keep our patients and health care team safe, including separating COVID and non-COVID patients and wearing proper PPE at all times. Although the pandemic has been a new challenge, we are well equipped to care for a large number of patients in our hospital at any time. We provide expert care in any situation, no matter how many patients are in our hospital.

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