Mississippi Left With Six ICU Beds As Delta Variant Soars Among Unvaccinated

Officials in Mississippi said hospitals across the state are struggling to cope with the surge of new COVID cases in unvaccinated patients who have contracted the Delta variant.

Leaders at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) said they are seeing more and more people under the age of 50 and children being hospitalized after contracting the virus.

The rise in new cases is putting a strain on health systems in Mississippi, with officials stating on Wednesday that there were only six ICU beds available throughout the state, reported WJTV.

"We are at this moment over capacity," Dr. LouAnn Woodward, UMMC's COVID-19 incident commander, said during a press conference.

"We have been over capacity here at the medical center most of the summer, honestly. It almost starts to feel like a new normal, but it's not."

As well as the lack of beds, hospitals are also struggling to treat the surge of new COVID patients due to a lack of staff, as nurses and doctors also get infected.

Alan Jones, associate vice chancellor for clinical affairs and COVID-19 clinical response leader, said that the UMMC had to close a 15-bed unit with a further 14 ICU beds not in use as they do not have enough staff.

Jones added that the outbreaks of COVID among workers arrived as staff are already burned out and overworked as they deal with yet another surge in cases, with the Delta variant spreading through the state and the entire country.

"We've gone through this four to five times," Jones said, via the Mississippi Clarion Ledger. "We're at a breaking point."

On Wednesday, the Mississippi State Department of Health reported 2,821 new COVID-19 cases, the highest one-day case count since January 15.

Jones said that 94 people were hospitalized with coronavirus on Wednesday at UMMC, 13 of whom were children.

An overwhelming majority of those patients haven't been vaccinated, leaving hospital staff exasperated and feeling "honestly, some low level of anger" at those who are still not getting the vaccination.

"It is almost impossible to put into words the frustration that we all feel, the disappointment that here we are again," Woodward said.

"There are a lot of people in health care right now that feel pretty mad about this situation and part of it is because we know more now. Now, we have a safe and effective tool that we did not have at this time last year. We've got the vaccine."

Mississippi has one of the lowest vaccination rollouts in the country with only around 35 percent of the population having both shots. In several counties, less than a third of the population has received one dose of the vaccine.

Mississippi hospitals covid
(File photo) A Covid-19 patient uses a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine to help her breathe in a Covid holding pod at Providence St. Mary Medical Center in Apple Valley, California on January 11, 2021. Mississippi hospitals are struggling to cope with the surge of new COVID cases involving unvaccinated patients, officials said. ARIANA DREHSLER/AFP/Getty Images