Governor Tate Reeves was joined by Dr. Thomas Dobbs with MSDH, Director Gregg Michel with MEMA, as well as President of the Mississippi State Medical Association, Dr. Claude Brunson and Dr. Clay Hayes Secretary of the Mississippi State Medical Association.
Gov. Reeves reminded people that tonight at 5:00 p.m. begins the statewide shelter-in-place. He told those watching that this is not a time to be in fear, but a time to follow the spirit of the order and only leave home and interact with others when necessary.
“The main thing here in slowing the spread of the virus is making sure hour healthcare facilities don’t get overwhelmed,” said Reeves.
Dr. Dobbs, Director of the MSDH, brought a ventilator with him to the press conference to show what conversions to ventilators have been made in order allow for them to work on a mechanical basis to ensure when the numbers rise, facilities can keep up.
Dobbs said that there are 500 ventilators headed to Mississippi State for potential use. There is currently no record of how many ventilators are being utilized in relation to COVID-19 at this time.
“While we don’t have a specific number for those who get on ventilators and then get off. What we do know is that the best way to stay off the ventilators is to not get the virus and the best way to not get the virus as to adhere to the shelter-in-place order,” said Reeves.
Dr. Brunson said while they do anticipate a surge, they have been working hard to reach out to physicians across the state asking them to be prepared to step up and help if needed.
“A lot of good work is going on. I think we are as prepared or more prepared than most states in the country,” said Dr. Brunson. He added that UMMC has also reached out to other organizations across the state to coordinate efforts when they are needed.
Reeves said his hope is that they are successful in being prepared for the coming days and those who need the most critical care.
When it comes to the peak time for the virus in Mississippi, Dr. Dobbs says it is hard to predict when that will happen but by their estimates they believe it could be closer to the April 20 date. He added that even with the current recommendations in place, there could be roughly 1,000 deaths or more in the state.
Nationally there could be between 100,00 to 250,000 deaths.
“There have already been far too many pass away from this virus. As we move into the next phase, it is critically important that the people adhere to the demands of the shelter-in-place… than we will lessen the impact to the extent that is possible,” said Reeves.
Dr. Hayes said hospitals are looking to hospitals in larger cities and taking those successful protocols and working to put them in place here.
“There is something called collective intelligence where someone may be more intelligent in one area than someone else, and that knowledge is being shared during this time because physicians have the ability to do so,” said Hayes.
When it comes to churches or groups of faith meeting, Reeves said they recommend that you exercise your practice of religion by doing so in the safety of your home. He added that many churches are utilizing streaming services to continue to worship and gather for times of prayer.
He encouraged churches not to promote any kind of church service gatherings even if everyone stays in their car in the parking lot. He added that he does not believe government has the ability to close churches, but there are strict guidelines in place to protect the safety of all these people.
Reeves reminded people that every state is at a different phase of their coronavirus cycle at this time. He said they are each in a place to make specific decisions for that state on how to flatten the curve.
At this time, there has been no decision to shut down public schools for the remainder of the year. The Shelter-in-place order currently coincides with when schools are shut down Reeves said they will be monitoring the situation over the next 10 days and determine what comes next.
Director Michel received word today from FEMA that our request for an emergency disaster declaration is in the que. If and when it is granted the funding will come through that. it will provide for different types of emergency responses and could provide more individual assistance, which is what was applied for. This is separate from the $2 trillion in the stimulus package signed last week.
“I am absolutely confident that Mississippi will be declared a major disaster. while we have asked for it and I expect it to be granted I am waiting on the final word,” said Reeves.
As of now, there have been no positive reported cases of COVID-19 within the Mississippi Department of Corrections. Prisons are taking extreme measures to ensure that it does not spread to inmates including suspending all visitation.