Greenwood Leflore Hospital has created a special unit to treat patients suffering from COVID-19.

The unit has 16 beds, four of which are equipped for intensive care treatment.

As of Friday afternoon, the unit was caring for four patients with confirmed COVID-19 and four others who might have the respiratory disease, the hospital said.

There are no COVID-19 patients in the hospital’s regular 16-bed ICU.

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Christine Hemphill, a spokeswoman for the hospital, said it was not disclosing the location of the COVID-19 unit out of concerns for patient privacy.

As of Friday, 13 people in Leflore County had tested positive for the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. There have been no deaths in the county related to the illness.

Most people infected with the coronavirus only get mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, and recover in weeks. Many, however, will need hospitalization. Those most vulnerable to getting severely ill from the virus are older adults with existing health problems, who can develop severe complications such as pneumonia.

The Mississippi State Department of Health reported on Friday that there had been 579 cases of the coronavirus in the state and eight deaths. Six of the deaths involved people at least 60 years of age, almost all of whom had underlying health conditions. Details on the two most recent deaths were not available as of Friday afternoon.

In its most serious manifestation, COVID-19 attacks the lungs, making it difficult for patients to breathe.  If the condition becomes severe enough, a mechanical ventilator is employed to push air and oxygen into the patients’ lungs until their condition improves enough that they can breathe on their own.

A limited supply of ventilators has been one of the chief concerns facing hospitals around the country.

The Greenwood hospital has 10 critical-care ventilators with eight more to be delivered on April 10, hospital officials said. It also has one portable ventilator.

Three of the four confirmed COVID-19 patients were on ventilators Friday.

Contact Tim Kalich at 581-7243 or

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