The number of people testing positive for the coronavirus in Mississippi has increased. The total now stands at 34 in 14 counties. MPB's Kobee Vance reports the University of Mississippi Medical Center is developing a test to help identify patients quickly.
To keep up with the demand for Coronavirus testing, the University of Mississippi Medical Center is creating its own test kit. Dr. LouAnn Woodward, Dean of the School of Medicine, says the hospital's academic researchers are working as rapidly as possible.
"We anticipate, in the next two week time frame, that we will have that capability in-house."
Doctor Alan Jones, Chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine, says they are ramping up all contingency plans for a "tidal wave" of patients.
"It's very important that people not come to the emergency department. I can not stress that enough. If you are concerned that you may have the virus and you don't believe that you are dramatically worsening or that you are in need of hospitalization for that, then we would urge you strongly to stay away from the emergency department."
Jones is suggesting calling your physician first.
Dr. Jonathan Wilson, Chief Administrative Officer, says people with pre-existing conditions are at a higher risk for severe outcomes.
"And everybody knows the state of Mississippi is not the healthiest state when we start looking at all the rankings. Right? So we have a lot of co-morbid disease in the state of Mississippi. So we're not sure, and there is no good forecast, for us to know how this virus will impact our population."
The hospital wants to "flatten the curve," meaning prevent the spread of disease as much as possible to not overwhelm the healthcare system. Doctor Jones stresses this is not to be taken lightly
"This, this will affect us profoundly. This is not another bad flu season. This is a lot different. In 50 years, school children are gonna be reading about this. When we're talking about on the order of 200,000 to 1,700,000 deaths in the United States, it's gonna be significant."
A student and a nurse at UMMC both tested positive for COVID-19 and are in self-isolation at their homes.
The hospital has 93 ICU beds prepared, and they are looking for more ways to expand its capacity. Leaders say they are preparing an entire floor of the hospital to treat patients with COVID-19.