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Disaster relief ministry sets up COVID beds in hard-hit Mississippi

Disaster relief ministry sets up COVID beds in hard-hit Mississippi


Samaritan's Purse staff prepare to sheet a portable bed in one of four wards that are part of the 32-bed emergency field hospital set up at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

Disaster relief ministry sets up COVID beds in hard-hit Mississippi

A well-known ministry that responds to natural disasters has responded to an urgent call in Mississippi, where more hospital beds are needed after a record-breaking surge in COVID-19 cases.

Samaritan’s Purse is on the ground in quake-hit Haiti, and in California after the devastating Dixie Wildfire, and the ministry has sent a medical team to the Deep South, too. The international ministry arrived over the weekend in Jackson, the state’s capital city, where it set up for an emergency field hospital that is operating at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

Dr. Elliott Tenpenny, who is leading the Mississippi operation, tells American Family News the virus has filled up hospitals across the state.

“We're told that there are no ICU beds left for the critically ill,” he advises, “and there are hundreds of patients that are waiting for a bed to open up so they can get care.”

That description mirrors the state’s official statistics. In one week, from Aug. 10-17, the Miss. Dept. of Health logged 27,845 positive cases, an average of 3,977 cases a day in a small rural state of 3 million people.

Mississippi, the poorest state in the Union, has the nation's third-highest mortality rate per 100,000 citizens. The state has the lowest vaccination rate, too.

According to MDH figures posted online, the number of hospitalizations in the state numbered 1,623 on August 16, easily surpassing the second-highest total of 1,444 from January of this year.

The status of hospital beds is no longer listed online after the state agency pulled the stats at least a week ago.

In Jackson, where Hinds County leads the rest of the state in cases, Samaritan’s Purse has set up 32 beds but the field hospital could expand to care for 10 ICU patients and 50 non-ICU patients.

In the last year and a half, when the Wuhan virus hit the U.S., Samaritan’s Purse has set up hospital beds in New York City and in Los Angeles.

“What we’ve learned over the last year and a half,” Tenpenny says, “has allowed us to be one of the few non-governmental organizations that is able to provide eye-level intensive care management for these patients.”