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Mississippi withholds some health prep info about virus

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Mississippi withholds some health prep info about virus

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi residents are unlikely to find out how many ventilators are available in the state to respond to the coronavirus pandemic because the Health Department is withholding that information.

The state health officer, Dr. Thomas Dobbs, said this week that Mississippi has plenty of ventilators available, but officials are concerned about the demand increasing in coming weeks as more people test positive for the highly contagious virus. He said the numbers for ventilators that are available or are in use can change quickly.

“People would freak out if they were looking and seeing, oh, it’s gone up 10% or down 10%. So, it’s such a dynamic number that we don’t publish it,” Dobbs said Wednesday.

During another news conference Thursday, Dobbs said some ventilators are more powerful than others, and he does not want to release numbers of machines because that could be “misleading.”

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The state Health Department on Thursday updated Mississippi’s confirmed coronavirus caseload to at least 1,177 people and 26 deaths. Gov. Tate Reeves said more than 16,600 coronavirus tests have been done in Mississippi, a state with a population of about 3 million.

Many people moving around their communities may not know they have contracted the virus until well after they’ve infected others. Most infected people experience mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks, but a fraction suffering more severe illnesses can require ventilators to survive, and as the caseload rapidly grows, hospitals are bracing for a wave of patients.

Reeves said people at Mississippi State University are converting 500 battery-operated ventilators so the machines can be plugged […]

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