By Eric Ortiz – NBC News
For doctors at the University of Arkansas, a flood of new COVID-19 cases and dwindling availability of hospital beds makes it feel like they are going back in time in late 2020.
His latest projections suggest that coronavirus hospitalizations across the state will triple in the next two weeks, which would mean returning to a chaotic period where staff and resources to combat the disease were in short supply, surgery was difficult to carry out. scheduled, and the crisis seemed to have no end in sight.
If that happens, “we will overcome what was seen last winter,” said Dr. Steppe Mette, executive director of this medical center in Little Rock.
[Los nuevos casos de COVID-19 han aumentado un 109% en la última semana por culpa de la variante delta]
On Monday, the hospital was treating 57 hospitalized patients with COVID-19, up from eight cases six weeks ago, Mette explained.
“This is the big concern,” he added, “at the moment we are handling it well, but cases are increasing. We are physically placing patients in places that we normally would not have put them due to high demand.”
Orderly Adrián Parrilla transfers a patient with COVID-19 at Mission Hospital in Viejo, California, on February 19, 2021.
While coronavirus cases have increased across the country, in the South they have re-emerged explosively. In Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana and Tennessee, the spread of the delta variant, low vaccination rates and lax attitudes towards COVID-19 could lead to a rebound in the pandemic not seen in months, according to local public health authorities.
Mississippi’s top health official, Dr. Thomas Dobbs III, posted on Twitter on Monday that a fourth wave of the virus is already affecting the state, and regretted that it had not been prevented.
Dobbs warned over the weekend that intensive care unit (ICU) beds were “becoming scarce,” and that 11 of the state’s major ICUs were no longer available. There are currently 138 places in these units, the lowest number in the state since March.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 hospitalizations in Mississippi reached 369 this weekend, a number that had also not been seen since March, with about 34% of patients in intensive care. During the last three weeks, hospital admissions increased by more than 200% in this state.
[Por sexto día consecutivo Los Ángeles reporta 1,000 nuevos casos de COVID-19 cada 24 horas]
Almost all of the new cases can be attributed to the delta variant, Dobbs said on a radio show Monday. With an average of about 800 new cases a day, infections tripled in the last week.
“Above all we are seeing a large increase in children, adolescents and young adults, because it was reopened [la economía] in the summer, there are low vaccination rates and little immunity in those groups, ”explained Dobbs, adding that there has been an alarming increase in the number of healthy adults in their 40s in intensive care.
Dobbs remains an arduous advocate for wearing face masks and avoiding social gatherings, even as Republican Gov. Tate Reeves ended health restrictions in early March, claiming that “hospitalizations and the number of cases plummeted. and the vaccine is being distributed rapidly. “
This month, however, the Mississippi Department of Health announced new recommendations to help prevent the spread of the delta variant, asking residents 65 and older to avoid mass gatherings indoors, regardless of whether they have been vaccinated, and calling all residents over the age of 12 to get their coronavirus injection.
Studies have shown that COVID-19 vaccines are highly safe and effective. But misinformation continues to cast doubt on them, especially in rural and more conservative areas.
[¿Son seguras las vacunas para las embarazadas y los bebés lactantes? Los datos son “tranquilizadores”]
Arkansas Governor Republican Asa Hutchinson – who has been on a statewide tour after assuming the position of president of the National Governors Association – urged the federal government to approve the regular use of the vaccines, rather than continuing with the emergency authorization, arguing that this would give more certainty to the population that still has reserves.
“Let me be clear: I’m not asking you to trust the government,” Hutchinson said at a rally in Texarkana last week, as reported by The Associated Press news agency. “I’m asking you to watch, do your own research, talk to people you trust, and that’s the right approach for me, “he added.
A high school student receives her first COVID-19 injection in Georgia on May 12, 2021.
It’s a different approach from other Republican governors, who portray health officials as their adversaries while trying to control the pandemic.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has been selling T-shirts and other products with the slogan “Don’t Fauci My Florida” (which translates something like “No to Fauci in my Florida”), in reference to the government’s leading expert federal in infectious diseases.
In Missouri, Republican Gov. Mike Parson has suggested that some health officials are trying to scare people into getting vaccinated. In Tennessee, the top vaccination official was fired amid protests in the state Republican Party against her effort to vaccinate all teenagers.
[Este joven se arrepiente de no vacunarse: enfermó de COVID-19 y necesitó un doble trasplante de pulmón]
Mette, from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, said convincing more people to get vaccinated is key if the increase in cases is to be reversed. Although he said that forcing people to inoculate would only deepen the division that already exists in a state in which it will take a lot of one-on-one convincing or a deepening of the crisis for people to change their minds.
“People have listened to our messages ad nauseam, but seeing patients who have trouble breathing and who regret not having been vaccinated can make a difference. Those are real people who are getting seriously ill,” he added.