Mississippi hospitals request over 1,450 healthcare workers to meet staffing needs

August 19, 2021 – Adequate staffing at Mississippi hospitals would allow the state’s hospitals to open more than 1,000 beds amid the current COVID-19 resurgence.

Jim Craig, senior deputy and director of health protection for the Mississippi State Department of Health, said that because of staff shortages in the state, 771 medical-surgical and 235 intensive care unit beds are unused.

A group of 73 Mississippi hospitals have collectively asked the state for roughly 1,450 health care workers so they can make use of all of their available beds amid the COVID surge that is overwhelming the state’s healthcare system.

Craig told the Clarion Ledger that a health officer order issued Wednesday certified Mississippi’s Emergency Medical Services workers to provide care for patients in state-licensed hospitals.

This week, Mississippi saw the highest number of coronavirus-related hospitalizations since the virus came into the state in March 2020.

Health officials have identified the Neshoba County Fair nearly three weeks ago as the catalyst for the current surge. State Epidemiologist Paul Byers said Wednesday Neshoba County is an example of how infectious the delta variant is among people in large gatherings, especially in places with low vaccination rates. Neshoba County hosts a 22% fully vaccinated rate. 

The variant’s high transmissibility rate has been especially prominent in the school setting, health officials said. The Mississippi State Department of Health COVID-19 school report showed 4,521 new cases among students between Aug. 9-13 in 74 of the state’s 82 reporting counties. Over 20,000 students are in quarantine due to COVID-19 exposure and 29 schools have elected to temporarily turn to virtual learning as COVID-19 infections that have ravaged their institutions.

Health officials yet again urged vaccination for those eligible, reiterating the state has plenty of vaccines left. Dobbs noted since the delta variant has surged cases to the highest levels Mississippi’s seen, vaccination rates have more than tripled from five weeks ago.

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