The special intensive care unit for treating COVID-19 patients at Greenwood Leflore Hospital was full on Monday, an occurrence that has rarely occurred during the 10-month pandemic.

All 14 beds in the unit were taken, according to the daily census provided by the hospital. When that happens, any new COVID-19 patients requiring hospitalization are cared for in the emergency room until a bed becomes available in the COVID-19 unit, said Christine Hemphill, a hospital spokeswoman.

She said that Gov. Tate Reeves has barred hospitals from transferring critical care patients, whether suffering from the virus or another life-threatening condition, through Mississippi MED-COM, which handles all emergency transfers into the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

UMMC and hospitals throughout the state have been struggling to handle the patient loads created by the most recent surge in COVID-19 cases. The number of patients hospitalized statewide with a confirmed infection of COVID-19 reached a record high of 1,444 on Jan. 4. The number has since come down slightly and was 1,370 as of Sunday.

Meanwhile, over the weekend, two more deaths were added to Carroll County’s total, bringing it to 20.

The infection rate in that county is rising as well.

The two deaths occurred between Dec. 23 and Jan. 5 but were later attributed to COVID-19 from coroners’ death certificate reports.

Both victims were white, but other details about them were not available.

Of the 20 people to die in Carroll County from the virus, 11 were white and nine Black.

In November, the county experienced one of the highest infection rates in the state. At one point last week, it had fallen back down toward one of the lowest. It is now heading again in a dangerous direction.

For the week ending Friday, Carroll County averaged 7.32 new cases of COVID-19 daily per 10,000 residents, according to the data tracked by the Brown School of Public Health. That rate is only slightly less than the state average of 7.33 and ranks 41st out of Mississippi’s 82 counties.

It is, though, still significantly lower than the rate in Leflore County. During the same time period, Leflore County averaged 9.43 new cases of COVID-19 daily per 10,000 residents, ranking No. 15.

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