JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Mississippi is approaching its record number of COVID-19 hospitalizations as the virus continues spreading rapidly in a state with one of the lowest vaccination rates in the U.S.
The state Health Department reported Tuesday that 1,410 patients with confirmed cases of COVID-19 were in Mississippi hospitals Monday. Cases and hospitalizations have risen sharply in recent weeks because of the highly contagious delta variant of the virus.
Mississippi’s highest number of COVID-19 hospitalizations for a single day was 1,444 on Jan. 4, before vaccines against the virus were widely available.
According to leaders at St. Dominic Hospital in Jackson, the younger population makes up the growing number of COVID cases. Terri Dyess, the director of Hospital Medicine at St. Dominic, said a 20-year-old died from the virus on Monday, and the patient was not vaccinated.
Health officials said 20 and 30-year olds are on ventilators at the hospital. As of Tuesday morning, nine patients were waiting for an ICU bed at St. Dominic.
With staffing shortages and space needed for COVID patients, some patients at the hospital have been transferred to smaller facilities that have the capacity to treat them.
“It’s painful in many respects. It just backs up all the way down. If you come to the emergency room, you’re going to expect a wait of eight to 10 hours because emergencies are bumping ahead of you, and it’s going to usually be COVID respiratory failure that’s bumping ahead of you,” said Dyess.
She said St. Dominic is down 160 nurses. Healthcare workers on the frontline are trying to make do with what they have. In some cases, they’re renting and borrowing ventilators from other facilities that don’t have as many cases.
As of Tuesday, the state Health Department said 35% of Mississippi residents were fully vaccinated, compared to about 50% nationally.
The Health Department said that between July 13 and Monday, unvaccinated people made up 97% of those newly diagnosed with COVID-19, 89% of those hospitalized with it and 85% of those who died from it.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.