Meridian hospital treats COVID-19 patient; third Mississippi death reported

Erin Kelly / The Meridian Star

John Anderson, the president of Anderson Regional Medical Center, speaks about the hospital’s first case of COVID-19 during a news conference on Wednesday. 

Anderson Regional Medical Center has confirmed it is hospitalizing a patient who tested positive with the COVID-19 virus.

"The patient has been and continues to be under strict isolation and close observation in accordance with Mississippi Department of Health and CDC guidelines," said Dr. Hatem Mourad, the hospital's chief of medicine, during a news conference Wednesday afternoon. 

President and CEO John Anderson said the hospital has prepared for the situation by following evidence-based guidelines from the CDC and the Mississippi State Department of Health. 

"Our physicians, nurses and support staff are well-trained in the highly specialized care and isolation requirements for COVID-19 patients," he said. "Our efforts are focused on delivering the highest level of care possible while ensuring our staff is protected."  

The hospital is testing symptomatic patients who meet the criteria for COVID-19 testing, Mourad said.

"Any hospitalized patient who exhibits symptoms is being cared for with the appropriate precautions until their test results are received," he said. 

Anderson Regional Medical Center has implemented strict visitor guidelines to protect patients and staff from exposure to the virus, said Chief Medical Officer Dr. Keith Everett.

"We ask for the public's understanding and we ask that they have strict adherence to these guidelines," Everett said. "We also strongly recommend all members of our community to comply with social distancing guidelines by discontinuing any and all gatherings, maintaining proper hand hygiene and staying home as much as possible."

Everett said everyone should consider every person a possible carrier of the virus.

The hospital representatives declined to answer questions.

State reports fifth death; 57 new cases

Two more people have died from COVID-19, the Mississippi State Department of Health said Wednesday evening.

A Wilkinson County man, 85-90 years old with underlying conditions, died while hospitalized and a Tunica County woman, 75-80 years old, died in a long-term care facility, according to MSDH.

MSDH reported the third death from COVID-19 Wednesday afternoon.

A Webster County man, 65-70 years old with underlying health conditions, died while hospitalized, the agency said. 

Earlier in the day, state health officials announced the death of a Holmes County man between 60-65 years old with underlying health conditions.

He died from COVID-19 while hospitalized, MSDH said.

The health department previously confirmed the death of a Hancock County man in his 60s with COVID-19 and underlying health conditions. 

MSDH reported 57 new cases of COVID-19, including the first cases for Amite, Calhoun and Prentiss Counties. The state report came before Anderson's announcement about the Meridian case.

The state's total number of cases is 377 and 1,943 people have been tested.

A graph on the MSDH website indicates illnesses that began March 17 or later may not yet be reported. As of Monday, 71 percent of reported cases were not hospitalized and 60 percent of the cases were female patients, according to the state's data.

MSDH said testing providers require that you have a fever of 100.4 or greater and severe cough or chest pain to be tested.

Lauderdale Emergency Management Director Odie Barrett said plans are underway to set up a local testing site.

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