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Mississippi sets up overflow tents as hospitals hit capacity amid surge in COVID cases


A Mississippi hospital has become the latest to set up an overflow tent as COVID cases surge – with 70 of its staff currently quarantined because of virus exposure.    

Crews were setting up a 50-bed mobile hospital for overflow patients at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson on Wednesday.

It was erected in the facility’s covered concrete parking lot after the facility hit capacity, and suffered a massive staff shortage because of the virus.   

‘All of our hospitals are full,’ Dr. Alan Jones, UMMC associate vice chancellor for clinical affairs, told WAPT.  

‘Our biggest pain point is some of our nursing and nursing staff availability,’ echoed UMMC Vice Chancellor Dr. LouAnne Woodward.

The University of Mississippi Medical Center is setting up a 50-bed mobile hospital for overflow patients as the state sees a surge in COVID cases

Hospital officials say the facility has hit capacity amid staffing shortages, noting that 70 employees are currently quarantined due to COVID-19

Hospital officials say the facility has hit capacity amid staffing shortages, noting that 70 employees are currently quarantined due to COVID-19

According to UMMC officials, the pediatric hospital is completely full and while there are some adult beds available, they cannot be used because the hospital doesn’t have enough healthcare workers to treat those patients.

The hospital reportedly has 70 employees currently quarantined due to COVID-19. It is unclear if those staff have the virus, or have been exposed to it and must quarantine until they test negative. DailyMail.com has contacted the hospital for further comment. 

The temporary medical facility, which is being housed on the bottom floor of Garage B, will be used to help patients who need to see a medical provider, but do not warrant hospitalization or emergency department care. 

It will also offer a treatment for COVID patients involving IV infusion of monoclonal antibodies, which has been recommended by State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs, WLBT reported.  

The mobile hospital will be staffed with federally provided personnel from the U.S. Health and Human Services, none of whom are Mississippi residents. Hospital officials note it could be weeks before these workers arrive on site. 

It is unclear how long the overflow facility will operate once staffed, however, officials note this likely depends on ‘how long the Delta variant continues to spike cases’.  

As of Wednesday, UMMC was treating 126 coronavirus patients, including 21 pediatric patients. 

‘We’re back at this point where no one wanted to be. We are concerned about what is on the horizon over the next few weeks and months,’ Woodward said.

‘Are we at the peak? Will it be another month? We don’t know. We don’t know the impact of schools opening.’ 

The mobile hospital will be staffed with federally provided personnel from the U.S. Health and Human Services, none of whom are Mississippi residents

The mobile hospital will be staffed with federally provided personnel from the U.S. Health and Human Services, none of whom are Mississippi residents

Hospital officials note it could be weeks before these workers arrive on site

Hospital officials note it could be weeks before these workers arrive on site

Workers prepare the hospital's parking lot for its COVID overflow facility

Workers prepare the hospital’s parking lot for its COVID overflow facility 

Intensive care nurses prepare to move a COVID positive patient into a new bed on August 11

Intensive care nurses prepare to move a COVID positive patient into a new bed on August 11 

UMMC set up a mobile hospital last year, in the height of the pandemic, in an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 between patients. 

Now, the reopening of the facility comes as hospitals across Mississippi are struggling to find room for patients. 

‘This is our nightmare,’ Jones explained, noting that some hospitals have been placed on ‘diversion,’ meaning they cannot take new patients.

Two days ago, state health officials reported that no intensive-care beds were available at any hospital in the state, according to the Mississippi Free Press. 

While Mississippi does have a statewide system in effect allowing hospitals without room to treat critical or COVID-19 patients to transfer these individuals to facilities that can provide care, Jones argued the state’s hospital system could fail without government intervention.  

‘Since the pandemic began, I think the thing that hospitals have feared the most is total failure of the hospital system. And if we track back a week or so when we look at the case positivity rate, the rate of new cases, the rate of hospitalizations—If we continue that trajectory within the next five to seven to 10 days, I think we’re going to see failure of the hospital system in Mississippi,’ he explained.

Meanwhile, healthcare experts say that the best thing citizens can do to aid this situation is to get the coronavirus shot.

‘What will really help our problem is to get more people vaccinated,’ Woodward said, noting that 90 percent of UMMC’s COVID-19 patients are unvaccinated.

Mississippi is seeing a rise in hospitalizations of COVID patients. State health officials say 90 percent of those hospitalized are unvaccinated

Mississippi is seeing a rise in hospitalizations of COVID patients. State health officials say 90 percent of those hospitalized are unvaccinated

Coronavirus cases have soared in Mississippi over the last month, rising from a seven-day average of 267 new cases per day a month ago to 2,640 as of Tuesday.

Data from the state health department indicates a total of 371,712 cases in the state and 7,710 deaths. Fatalities have increased from a seven-day average of about three deaths per day a month ago to more than 13.

The state reported 1,410 people hospitalized and 371 in intensive care units. 

However, the number of Mississippi residents getting vaccinated has ‘doubled or tripled’ in the past few weeks, Woodward reported.

As of Wednesday, 2,295,201 Mississippians had received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine and 1,062,396, or 35 percent of the population, are fully vaccinated. 

41 percent of that state has received its first shot. 

DailyMail.com contacted UMMC for comment and is awaiting response. 



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