Fewer than 300 ICU beds available in Tennessee, 186 in Mississippi

Fewer than 300 ICU beds available in Tennessee, 186 in Mississippi
(Source: WMC Action News 5)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - As COVID-19 cases continue rising throughout the Mid-South, health experts remain concerned about hospital capacity.

Numbers from the Tennessee Health Department show since Tuesday more than 400 people in the state have been hospitalized with COVID-19.

The latest data shows fewer than 300 ICU beds are available across the state. More than 400 beds were available in early July.

In Mississippi, the numbers are more troubling.

The state reported 1,434 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday.

Officials say 961 are hospitalized with COVID-19 in Mississippi. Another 211 have suspected cases.

Officials said there are just 186 ICU beds available statewide.

Data shows only 12 ICU beds are available in the northwest public health district, which includes DeSoto, Tate, Panola, Tunica, Quitman and Coahoma counties.

"We must continue to work together to slow the spread of this virus to prevent our healthcare system from becoming overwhelmed," said Gov. Tate Reeves.

He warns that overwhelmed hospitals could have trouble treating other types of patients.

“If you go to an emergency room in Mississippi today, you’re going to get treated,” said Reeves. “But the question becomes how long in the future is that a guarantee, and at what point is the quality of that care compromised?”

In the Memphis area, 85 percent of ICU beds were being used as of Saturday.

The Shelby County Health Department says 389 patients were in ICU. The department's figures show 114 of those ICU patients had a confirmed case of COVID-19. Twenty-seven others are potentially infected with the virus.

The department shows 91 percent of acute care beds being used.

Dr. Jeff Warren is a Memphis council member and member of the Memphis-Shelby County joint COVID-19 task force.

He says hospitals are stretched thin right now and it's taking a toll on staff.

"I think this is a nationwide issue. It's an industry issue," said Warren.

He says the good news is transmissions appear to be slowing.

He says things will continue getting better if people wear their masks.

“The main thing people can do to show their support for health care workers and help us out is to wear your mask when you go out,” said Warren.

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