Tuesday morning the Mississippi State Medical Association (MSMA) issued a call for a statewide mandate requiring face coverings in public settings, and a local medical professional says that could become a reality in the near future.
“To tell the truth, I see it coming,” Lackey Memorial Hospital CEO Sydney Sawyer, RN said. “The hospitals are full — we’re doing fine here, but ICU beds are full in the hospitals all around the state.”
Sawyer reiterated his stand that this is a serious virus and is no hoax as some people claim on social media. “People just need to understand that no one is making this mess up,” he said. “It is the truth. I’m talking to smart, smart people and they are telling us this is real. What reason would Dr. (Thomas) Dobbs (Mississippi State Health Officer) possibly have to make any of this up. It is just unbelievable what people are saying.
“Masks, masks, masks,” Sawyer continued, “just pay attention to those things we’ve talked about.” Masks, small groups, social distancing of at least six feet, and hand washing, are some the guidelines the CEO is referring too that he and Forest Mayor Nancy Chambers, as well as Dr. Dobbs, have been preaching for weeks.
“We are hanging in there,” Sawyer said, “but we are testing like crazy. We are at about 50 per day in the drive thru and that is a lot for here.” Sawyer said that as of Monday afternoon they had seen 97 negative tests and 35 positive tests since last Friday. “That’s about 30 percent positive which is still kind of high,” he said.
“We are doing a ton of testing. We’ve got a new test. It is a 15 minute test we are using for anyone that does not have symptoms. If a person is asymptomatic and it shows that they are negative or positive it is correct.”
“With the reopening of communities throughout the state, the daily number of COVID-19 cases has been increasing at an alarming rate, crippling the ability of our major hospital systems to provide emergency care for patients,” the MSMA said in a press release. “Throughout the pandemic, physicians have been working on the front lines to care for patients diagnosed with COVID-19 while continuing to provide critical care for all patients in need. In order to protect the health of physicians and other healthcare workers, and preserve critical medical supplies needed to care for Mississippians, the Mississippi State Medical Association is supporting physician’s call for a statewide mask mandate requiring everyone to wear masks in public spaces.”
The press release continued saying early evidence has shown that masks and face coverings significantly reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. “Mississippians have demonstrated their willingness to support comprehensive efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 by practicing social distancing, frequently washing their hands, and staying home whenever possible. As COVID-19 cases in Mississippi and across the South continue to rise, additional measures must be implemented to ensure critical medical resources are available to meet the needs of all Mississippians, including a statewide mask mandate that helps reduce community spread of the COVID-19.
“We strongly believe that without a statewide mask mandate, our state’s healthcare system cannot sustain the trajectory of this outbreak, which could ultimately result in the loss of the lives of many Mississippians. With the staggering toll of this pandemic on our state, we need to act quickly and decisively. We can defeat COVID-19 in the same way we have historically defeated public health threats in the past—by letting evidence and science dictate our decisions and inform our actions. Science and evidence have made it absolutely clear that COVID-19 is not behind us, and we must resist the urge to relax the measures that have proven effective in keeping people safe.”
As of Monday Governor Tate Reeves had issued an executive order mandating masks in 13 Mississippi counties, similar to the order that Scott county was under last month. The counties are Claiborne, DeSoto, Grenada, Harrison, Hinds, Jackson, Jefferson, Madison, Quitman, Rankin, Sunflower, Washington, and Wayne.
As of Tuesday’s daily report from the Mississippi State Department of Health there were 862 new positive cases of COVID-19 and 23 additional deaths, bringing the state total to 37,542 positive cases and 1,272 deaths since March 11. Scott County was reporting 837 total cases, up 64 since the same time last week and 15 deaths, again reporting no news deaths since last week.
Of those statewide numbers there were 805 confirmed positive cases hospitalized with an additional 254 people in the hospital with suspected positive cases. ICU beds were occupied by 227 COVID-19 patients and 126 were on ventilators.