Hospital

Dr. Shailesh Patel leaves a patient's room at Methodist-Olive Branch.

The Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare hospital network surpassed its record of in-house COVID-19 patients on Wednesday. The new record of 155 beat the previous record of 148 recorded on July 31.

“As a competitive person myself, we always strive to be the first...This is not a competition we want to be the first or the highest in,”  Chief Medical Officer of Methodist-Germantown Dr. Cassandra Howard said.

The Methodist network is made up of six hospitals, five in Shelby County and one in DeSoto County. The number of COVID-19 patients in their Olive Branch hospital is 13 at the time of publishing. 

There are currently 72 COVID-19 patients hospitalized in DeSoto County. 10 of those patients are in ICUs, and there are only three ICU beds available across the county. This has left the local healthcare system vulnerable to being overwhelmed and is what motivated Gov. Tate Reeves to reinstate a mask mandate in DeSoto County on Oct. 21. 

The downward trend of infections seen statewide following the summer peak has sharply declined in recent weeks. The average number of weekly tests is down statewide and test positivity is up, in contrast to claims that peaks in cases is because of increased testing. 

DeSoto County had a 15.9% test positivity rate as of Oct. 21, the latest date for which county data from MSDH is available. This is more than double the 7.1% positivity rate for Hinds County, the only Mississippi county with a higher caseload than DeSoto, in the same period.

Howard cited suburban communities and local sports gatherings as a few of the sources behind the sharp increase in infections seen in Shelby County and surrounding areas. 

She also cited the incorrect use of PPE from people attempting to follow health guidelines, but incorrectly assuming that masks and gloves act as a catch-all as another contributing factor. For example, they might wear gloves, but do not disinfect the surfaces they touch and contaminate them. The virus can live on a surface for up to two days, Howard said. 

“Remember, guys, we must hold ourselves and our family and friends accountable,” Howard said. “And we all know what to do to stop the virus and we simply need to do it. Our community members need to partner with us and change their behavior.”

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