LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Public health officials have warned that there are likely many more cases of COVID-19 than those reported daily.
And the Lake Area medical community emphatically agrees.
Local doctors are concerned that people who only look at state numbers may be putting themselves and others at risk.
A drive around at midday reveals, normally busy places are quiet. Only a sign urging, "prayers for our community" catches the eye at an empty school. If you see someone on foot, they are usually alone...so it would seem people are staying away from each other.
The state COVID-19 numbers for this area don't seem staggering--though public health officials warn there are likely many more cases.
And now doctors in private practice are sounding the alarm.
Dr. Karen Fisher says, “Definitely there have been lots of physicians in the area that have had tests come back, and just in talking with other physicians several of us realized that there are way more positive tests than are being reported.
Dr. Uzma Naeem agrees. “It's just barely at a level where our medical community can handle it and even in new Orleans you see people are doing jobs that they haven't done in years just so that we people and enough bodies to take care of these patients and this is the very beginning.
Physicians Karen Fisher and Uzma Naeem say there are many more cases and fear people are letting their guard down and not following the recommendations.
Fisher: I think there's just not enough compliance with the social distancing and people trying to avoid social gatherings things like that, that they've been advised to do because they feel like it's not very bad here.
Naeem: I think the number being updated is important so people can understand about social distancing and the kind of impact they're having. Don’t go out on the golf course or have a house party or have a crawfish boil. This is extremely serious."
The doctors do not fault the La. Health Department-- they say there's simply lag time getting results to report.
Naeem: they're just overwhelmed and it's a reflection of how well we can respond to this that even with the first week of testing, we're behind. So, when you look at epidemiologists’ numbers and when this is projected to peak if we're already behind now we're never going to be able to keep up with testing."
The doctors hope--just as they keep up on new developments with the coronavirus that the public will as well