Mississippi health officials said nearly a thousand hospital beds that could be used to treat patients are empty due to staff shortages

Jim Craig, senior deputy at the Mississippi Department of Health, stated Wednesday that “We are still nowhere near the personnel we need for our beds we need.”

Craig reports that 73 Mississippi hospitals have asked for 1,451 staff to treat their patients. As of Wednesday morning, more than 250 people waited in emergency rooms to be admitted to hospital beds according the AP.

Craig stated that if all of these positions were filled, Mississippi would have 771 beds for medical-surgical patients and 235 beds for intensive care units.

The Associated Press notes that Mississippi ranks among the lowest-paying states in the country for healthcare workers. This may be one reason why state health officials acknowledge it.

Mississippi is one of the most affected states by the recent surge in COVID-19 case numbers caused by the delta variant. The Magnolia State broke its record for highest seven-day average in cases this past weekend, recording an average of 110 cases per 100,000 residents.

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Due to the surge, the state is currently in a state emergency. Mississippi Governor. Tate Reeves (R) has remained firm in his decision to not issue a statewide mask mandate, instead encouraging residents to get vaccinated.

On Wednesday, a 13-year-old Mississippi girl died one day after she tested positive for COVID-19. This is the fifth COVID-19-related pediatric death in Mississippi. It is not known if she was vaccinated.

According to the Mississippi State Department of Health, 1633 COVID-19 patients are currently in Mississippi.

According to the Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 tracker, Mississippi has confirmed nearly 400,000 COVID-19 cases and almost 8,000 deaths. The state has an average testing positivity rate around 18% and approximately 37 percent of its total population are fully vaccinated.