Mississippi gets federal help amid COVID surge – National & International News – THU 12Aug2021


Mississippi gets federal help amid COVID surge. Fresh heatwave in Northwest. Italy records Europe’s highest ever temperature.


Mississippi calls for federal help amid COVID surge

Last week, officials reported that there were only 6 ICU beds in the entire state of Mississippi. As of a few days ago, Mississippi had zero open ICU beds. The state has now called in federal help in the form of medical personnel to relieve overwhelmed hospitals and healthcare workers. By tomorrow, authorities expect to open a 50-bed field hospital near the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) in Jackson. Gov. Tate Reeves has even raised the possibility of asking for Navy hospital ships to help with the overflow of patients.

“Every day I’m watching two airliners collide”

Long-suffering state health officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs expressed his dismay at the overwhelming resistance to vaccines and masks among Mississippians. “I kind of personally feel like I’m an air traffic controller, and every day I’m watching two airliners collide”, Dobbs said.

The head of UMMC, Dr. LouAnn Woodward echoed Dobbs’ frustration, and even described the new field hospital as just a “Band-Aid”. Woodward says the only meaningful solution is to get ahead of the surge, and that the only way to do that is to vaccinate more people.

According to the state’s Health Department, 35% of Mississippians, compared to about 50% nationwide. Between July 13 and August, 97% of new COVID cases in Mississippi were among unvaccinated people. Unvaccinated people also accounted for 90% of COVID hospitalizations and 84% of COVID deaths.

School outbreaks

Mississippi schools have suffered 69 COVID-19 outbreaks between August 2 and August 6. These resulted in positive tests for over 1000 kids and 300 teachers and staff. There could actually be many more than these reported cases since only 43 of 82 Mississippi counties provided information, and private schools are not reporting virus cases.

Unlike other states, Mississippi has no prohibition on school mask mandates, instead leaving it up to individual districts. Some school districts have chosen to mandate masks while many others have not.

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Northwest hit with another extreme heatwave

Northwestern states are suffering yet another stretch of days with extreme temperatures. This time, however, they are joined by Midwestern, Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states, which will also have heat advisories until Friday.

Oregon has declared a state of emergency and has been quick to put lessons learned in this summer’s previous heatwave into action. Record-shattering temperatures in Oregon, Washington State and parts of Canada killed thousands of people in areas where many do not have air conditioning. This time, cities are better prepared, having already set up cooling centers and shelters to give people an escape from the heat. Many of the first to show up are homeless people, who are particularly vulnerable to such weather events.

The state of emergency also applies to anticipated disruptions in the state’s power grid and other infrastructure. In the heatwave earlier this summer, photos circulated online of melted cables that were part of a cable car system. Asphalt also buckled in places, causing further transport disruptions.

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European heatwave abates in some places, intensifies in others

An intense heatwave that sparked hundreds of wildfires across Greece has finally broken. Some of the biggest and most destructive wildfires have been put out with considerable international help, but wildfires in other parts of the country are still out of control.

Other parts of Europe are still experiencing very high and even record-breaking temperatures. Today, Italy may have record Europe’s highest ever temperature at 119.8 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature was recorded on Sicily, which is experiencing its own spate of wildfires along with the rest of the country.

Across the Mediterranean in Algeria, wildfires have killed some 65 people, including civilians and firefighters. An anticyclone (nicknamed Lucifer) that originated here is being blamed for record temperatures in Italy. Anticyclones are areas of high atmospheric pressure that causes air to sink.

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