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Mississippi's Hospitals Are Overwhelmed. What Will Curb The COVID Surge?

Jackson-Hinds Comprehensive Health Center nurse Maggie Bass, left, gives Ayana Campbell, 14, a dose of the Pfizer vaccine at an open COVID-19 vaccination site sponsored by the university and the medical center in the Rose E. McCoy Auditorium at Jackson State University in Jackson, Miss., Tuesday, July 27. (Rogelio V. Solis/AP Photo)
Jackson-Hinds Comprehensive Health Center nurse Maggie Bass, left, gives Ayana Campbell, 14, a dose of the Pfizer vaccine at an open COVID-19 vaccination site sponsored by the university and the medical center in the Rose E. McCoy Auditorium at Jackson State University in Jackson, Miss., Tuesday, July 27. (Rogelio V. Solis/AP Photo)

The state of Mississippi has the lowest vaccination rate in the country. As the Delta variant approached, the state’s health officer sounded the alarm:

“I kind of personally feel like I’m an air traffic controller. And every day, I’m watching two airliners collide,” Dr. Thomas Dobbs said. “And I’m constantly warning to change course and we never do. We’ve got a lot more tragedy on the way.”

Now, Mississippi is reporting record numbers of new COVID cases. Governor Tate Reeves extended a state of emergency that had been set to expire. A doctor at a top hospital warned:

“If we continue that trajectory, within the next 5 to 7 to 10 days, we’re going to see failure of the hospital system in Mississippi,” Alan Jones, associate vice chancellor for clinical affairs and COVID-19 clinical response leader at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, said.

Today, On Point: The pandemic in Mississippi, and what it will take to turn it around.

Guests

Nick Judin, state reporter for the Mississippi Free Press. (@nickjudin)

Dr. LouAnn Woodward, vice chancellor of the University of Mississippi Medical Center. (@LAWoodwardMD)

Alex Cobb, ICU nurse at the Singing River Hospital in Ocean Springs, MI.

Wayne Rodolfich, superintendent of the Pascagoula-Gautier School District.

From The Reading List

Mississippi Free Press: “Gov. Reeves For Vaccinations, But Chides Against ‘Virtue-Signaling’ About Mask Need” — “Hours after the worst report of new COVID-19 cases in the pandemic thus far, Gov. Tate Reeves gave Mississippi a full-throated endorsement of vaccinations—but offered inconsistent and hostile messaging on the subject of masks.”

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.