While most Southwest Mississippi residents spent the week reeling from Hurricane Ida, the staff at Southwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center did not have time to stop and catch a breath. The system continues to be inundated with coronavirus patients amid a pandemic that has killed over a half a million people and some 450 in Southwest Mississippi.
“Since the beginning of this pandemic, we have never had more critically ill COVID-19 patients in our hospital,” Chief Medical Officer Dr. Kevin Richardson said. “Hospitals throughout the state are at full capacity. We ask everyone in the community to avoid large groups this weekend.
“If you must go out, please wear a mask. Vaccines are widely available, and the best way to avoid severe disease from this deadly virus. Please stay safe and keep our front-line nurses in your daily prayers.”
As of Friday, there were 31 COVID patients hospitalized at Southwest — 17 of them in intensive care, with 10 on ventilators, one of whom was fully vaccinated.
That’s twice the number of COVID patients from two weeks ago.
Mississippi has the second highest death rate per capita in the country, according to data statistic company Statista. That puts Mississippi with a death rate of 286 per 100,000, just below New Jersey, which had a per capita death rate of 303. Louisiana was No. 4 on the list with a per capita death rate of 272.
As hospitalizations continue to rise, Southwest extended its Cough and Fever Clinic hours to 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.
The state is still seeing an average of about 3,000 cases a day despite Hurricane Ida pulling attention away from the pandemic. The Mississippi State Department of Health reported 3,352 new coronavirus cases Friday, with 33 more deaths.
Pike County’s vaccinated population has remained stagnant at 36% since Aug. 23. Lincoln County remained at 29% since Monday.
Lawrence County rose by 2 percentage points to 43%, Wilkinson County 2 points to 45%, Franklin County 1 point to 36%, and Walthall County 5 points to 29%.
The state’s vaccination rates rose to 38.5% from 37.7%, with 47.1% of the population taking its first dose.