Mississippi now has the highest rate of coronavirus hospitalizations of any state, as the pandemic continues to spread nationwide. Currently, the rate of hospitalizations stands at about 31 percent, with 332 people hospitalized out of 1,073 infections.

The Mississippi State Department of Health is reporting 181 new cases of the coronavirus in Mississippi.

That brings the state’s total number of cases to 1,358 with 29 deaths.

Gov. Tate Reeves issued a shelter in place order for the entire state Wednesday, saying the order is the best way to alleviate strain on the health care system and give the state time to prepare for coming COVID patients.

State health officer Thomas Dobbs echoed Reeves, reiterating gatherings are the cause of most known cases.

“We need to use this tool (shelter-in-place) to slow things down such that we can process patients through the system safely to provide all patients what they need,” Dobbs said. He added that the order is meant to prevent overburdening the system now so the state can “adequately resource the health care system” for current and future patients. “It’s the right time,” he said.