Mississippi, the state with the lowest coronavirus vaccination rate in the U.S., is on the cusp of running out of ICU beds for severely ill people. Less than 35 percent of the state’s population is fully vaccinated, according to state figures. Jonathan Wilson, the chief administrative officer at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, has warned that hospital beds are fast running out—with just six available across the entire state—and case numbers are heading in the wrong direction.
“We are at the cusp of this. We know that we aren’t at the crest of this wave,” Wilson said Wednesday. “It’s bad, but it’s probably going to get a little worse.”
Neighboring Arkansas, where about 42 percent of people are fully vaccinated, had only 25 ICU beds open as of Wednesday, and some regions of Louisiana are also reporting serious ICU shortages. Meanwhile, Johns Hopkins University has confirmed that the U.S. hit a six-month high for new cases, with over 100,000 infections reported Wednesday.
Global COVID cases have now hit 200 million. A U.S. defense official confirms that potentially as soon as this week Defense Secretary Austin will seek authorization to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for all active-duty troops. Meanwhile, the Biden administration says it is working to institute a vaccine requirement for foreigners flying to the US from abroad in order to phase in a full return to international travel. The plan, over time, is to institute a requirement that foreigners from any country be fully vaccinated before flying to the US. A precise timeline for implementation isn’t clear, but administration aides say multiple agencies are involved in the process.
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