Nearly all of Mississippi’s daily COVID-19 metrics are now better than they were in recent weeks. However, other hot-spot states have also seen improvements that have been triggered by summer surges. The average daily number of new cases in Mississippi for the past seven days was 29 per 100,000 residents. This is about 6,000 weekly cases. Despite the fact that both the weekly case average and total cases per person have declined in recent weeks, the daily case count has remained at the top of the U.S. per head. Based on the recent influx in new cases, North Dakota had overtaken Mississippi by Thursday. According to the COVID Tracking Project’s national data, Mississippi has the fourth highest per capita infection rate since the pandemic. Mississippi now surpasses states that experienced large, early surges, but have since stabilized, like New Jersey and New York, which held the top spot until recently. Mississippi now trails Arizona, Florida, and Louisiana in terms of cumulative cases per 100,000 residents. The last week has seen significant improvements in hospitalizations, with the first sharp decline since the pandemic started and their lowest point since July. The University of Mississippi Medical Centre’s COVID-19 response coordinator, Dr. Alan Jones, said that while the lull was welcome, it is not enough and warned Mississippians and policy-makers to keep up the good work. Jones, assistant vice-chancellor for clinical affairs, stated that the medical community is awaiting a reprieve. However, schools are reopening, colleges are returning, football games are starting to take place, more people are going back to work and we are getting closer to Labor Day. “We are all holding our breath. We believe that those numbers will rise again in the wrong direction for at least two to six weeks after the (re-openings). He said the simple measures taken over the past month, which mask and reinforce social distancing, are now showing up as lagging indicators such as hospitalizations. He said that now is the best time to be vigilant. Hospitalization improvements could be extended if policymakers are able to resolve the issue and see it through to the end, not just say “Well, it’s been better for two weeks so we’re going up the mask mandate or (larger) gatherings Jones.” Jones said that he hoped that policymakers would continue to be “extra careful” and “extend those items that have been ripped off, so that we can see sustainable or lower transmission until we really are seeing it under control and we do believe that we can begin to relax things.” He also added that deaths reflect the case trends of previous weeks. Despite a decline in deaths since July’s peak, Mississippi has the highest number of new deaths per capita and eighth most deaths overall in the U.S. Despite these improvements, there are still a lot of hospitalizations in Mississippi. The state’s 15 hospitals were without ICU space last week, which means that 30% of Mississippi’s ICU beds were taken. The state’s ICUs had an average capacity of 66% before the pandemic. According to Mississippi Today’s analysis, 34% of all hospitals had capacity above the average as of last week. 84% of ICU beds were filled, according Mississippi Today’s analysis. The 15 hospitals comprised some of the state’s largest regional hospitals, including Delta Regional in Greenville and Baptist’s locations in Southaven, Jackson, Forrest General and UMMC (Jackson), which tends not to be full. These regional hospitals were full, or very close to it, as 82% of ICU beds in the state were full on Thursday. The highest level of COVID care (16 self designated hospitals, Levels 1 and 2) was 88% full. Jones said that the current reprieve has allowed for future planning and helped to reduce complex COVID care needs. Jones doesn’t think it will last as he watches the growth of schools, colleges, and sports and sees new cases gradually picking up. It’s human nature to forget that you are in the eye of a storm. Jones stated that numbers are declining, fewer people have it, and there is a decrease in hospitalizations. “We become less concerned about the things that led to that current reality,” Jones said. Jones said, “You have people who just don’t care anymore, I believe that’s just human nature.” He also stated that complacency and individual behavior will cause the hospital to regress back to the critical levels of late July. There’s only so much that health care systems can do when patients don’t follow guidelines or mandates, or learn how to “co-exist” with the virus. It would be like if there was a MASH unit (mobile army surgical hospital), in which all the soldiers just dropped their guns, didn’t fight back, and got shot. You will feel overwhelmed, and you’ll interpret it as “You guys didn’t help us.” he stated. There are not enough resources. Everyone must do their part. Look at the countries that have succeeded in controlling this. Every human being has done their part.