Southwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center has started to see a decline in hospitalizations in its system but ventilator and intensive care needs remain in high demand, according to hospital officials.
Chief Medical Officer Dr. Kevin Richardson said the hospital had 23 COVID-19 patients as of Friday, down from the record high of 35 reported at the beginning of the week.
He explained the encouraging data.
“We have had two COVID-19 deaths this week, in addition to the three last week,” Richardson said. “Overall, the declining number reflects patients being discharged to continue recovery at home, thankfully.”
Of the 23 coronavirus patients in the hospital, six were vaccinated, and of the 14 patients in the intensive care unit, two were vaccinated.
All but one ICU patient was on a ventilator and only one of the vaccinated patients was on a ventilator.
The number of patients on a ventilator on Friday set another record for the hospital.
The hospital has 15 ventilators, some of which were supplied by the Federal Emergency Management Agency at the beginning of the pandemic, but with the hospital so close to capacity on its stock, Richardson said it made a request for more ventilators this week.
He said the ventilators had not arrived by Friday afternoon but should soon.
Richardson also spoke about a recent meeting he and other healthcare officials had with State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs on Friday morning, when Dobbs elaborated on the state’s “modest” decline in cases.
“Even though the statewide trend has been a modest decline in new COVID hospital admissions, the number of daily new infections continues to be greater than 2,000 per day,” Richardson said. “The state is seeing more new cases per day today than we did at the height of the winter surge. Hospital bed shortage statewide continues to be a major challenge.
“As of this morning, there are 112 individuals in emergency rooms throughout our state waiting on hospital beds. Forty-six of these patients are critically ill, waiting on an ICU bed. Deaths from COVID-19 continue to occur at an alarming rate. According to Dr. Dobbs, as of today, Mississippi has the No. 1 COVID-19 death rate in the nation.”
Meanwhile, the state reported 2,321 cases and 49, deaths for a total of 473,413 cases and 9,214 total deaths since the pandemic. More than 1,000 of the deaths were reported in August.
Pike County has had 5,491 cases, totaling about 14% of the county’s population, with 133 deaths. That means 2.4% of all Pike County residents who contracted the virus have died.
Pike County’s total vaccinated population rose by a percentage point to 39% over the week. Nearly half of the county, 46%, has taken its the first dose, which has remained the same since Monday.
Amite County saw a rise of its fully vaccinated population to 30%. Franklin County went up to 39%, Lawrence County reported to 46%, Lincoln County rose to 32%, Walthall County went up 32%. Each rose a percentage point respectively.
Wilkinson County continues to have the highest fully vaccinated population in this area, with 47% of its population fully vaccinated and 53% having taken the first dose.