COVID testing sites packed as delta variant spreads

The delta variant is sweeping across the state and hospitals along the Coast are at their breaking point with a shortage of nurses and no ICU beds available.

To help make it easier on staff, Memorial Hospital set up a COVID testing site outside the hospital.

People sat in their cars outside of Memorial Hospital, waiting in long lines to receive a COVID test. Nearly 90 percent of new COVID-19 cases in Mississippi are the delta variant. To help lighten the load on hospital workers, Memorial set up drive-thru COVID testing sites at various locations. Vice President of Clinic Operations Matt Walker said, “We are still encouraging folks not to come to the emergency department for testing and to use one of our drive-thru locations.”

Over the weekend, Mississippi saw nearly 7,000 new cases. Mississippi’s top public health officials say there are no intensive care beds available in about 20 of the state’s top hospitals and the cases are continuing to spike. “It appears to be four times more contagious than the original strand. I think that is exactly what we are seeing in South Mississippi is a pretty rapid uptick of positive cases and a lot of folks who are needed to be screened.”

Walker tells News 25 that they are seeing one out of every four people testing positive. “One person may be positive; the other members of the family may be negative which is still going to require the entire family to go home and isolate.”

Hospitals are experiencing staffing shortages and it is causing an even longer wait time. “Like all people we have been going really hard the last year and now it seems like this is a new wave. So, our people are doing their very best but the thing that I would ask from the general public is as we kind of ramp up based off of what’s in the community. I’m just asking people if they could please be patient with us.”

Walker says the only way to move past the fourth wave is for people to get vaccinated. “What we are seeing is the vaccinated people are faring a lot better than the unvaccinated people.”

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