Stefanski: ‘We must work together’
The number of confirmed cases of novel coronavirus in Louisiana have continued to grow in past weeks and the number of deaths has now topped 3,000 statewide.
Parts of the state are seeing a resurgence in cases as Louisiana — and the nation as a whole — struggles through the first wave of the pandemic.
The Louisiana Department of Health reported that, from Friday to Sunday, the state arecorded 1,467 new cases of COVID-19 and the number of people with coronavirus in Louisiana hospitals increased by 15
There were also nine more deaths.
But experts are also saying that the blow Louisiana has taken — and is experiencing — in the first round of COVID-19 will not help to insulate the public from a potential second wave.
Studies are underway to determine the percentage of Louisianans who may have already been infected with coronavirus, but that number is expected to fall far short of the threshold of about 70 percent that could create “herd immunity.” And though it’s widely hoped, it’s not even known whether having coronavirus antibodies makes re-infection unlikely, according Dr. Alex Billioux, assistant secretary for Louisiana’s Office of Public Health.
Dr. Tina Stefanski, director of the Region 4 Office of Public Health, Louisiana Department of Health, points out that more than 90 percent of the increase of coronavirus cases in the seven-parish Acadiana area is due to community spread.
She also notes that hospitalizations in the region are increasing. “On June 10, there were 38 patients in our region with a COVID-19 diagnosis. As of Friday (June 26) there were 95 patients,” she said.
Quarantining after coming in contact with a coronavirus-positive person is important, according to Stefanski.
“If someone is identified as a close contact to a confirmed case, they should be placed under quarantine for 14 days. Even if they test negative, they must remain in quarantine,” she said.
“We are getting numerous reports that close contacts of cases are seeking negative tests in order to end their quarantine period earlier. That is incorrect,” she explained. “Even if a close contact tests negative they must remain in quarantine for the full 14 days.
“The test is only a reflection of a person’s COVID-19 status at the time of testing and could change in the days following testing. There is a lot of misunderstanding about the issue of quarantine among the general public and many people are returning to work and social gatherings when they should not be.”
The state’s percentage positivity of testing is 7.8 percent. The Region 4 percentage positivity is 9.2 percent. The federal goal is to keep this number below 10 percent.
“As a region, we must work together to change our course,” Stefanski said.
The simplest steps include hand hygiene, social distancing and face coverings.