LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Houston may be the new epicenter of the virus. In less than a week new cases have more than doubled. And hospital ICU wards in that area are at 97% capacity.
And the governor of Texas has paused his plan to reopen the state.
Right now, COVID-19 numbers in Southwest Louisiana are going up, but officials at the Calcasieu briefing do not blame it on Texas.
Clearly, Calcasieu officials don’t want to be the bearer of bad news, as the numbers are going up, Police Jury President Tony Guillory says people need to act.
“The numbers are very clear. Our medical community’s concerns are real. We all need to do better. We still have a chance to get back on track, but everyone must do their part,” said Guillory.
At this point, officials attribute the rise in cases to community spread, not visitors from Texas to local casinos and there’s no move to take down the welcome sign.
“That would be a decision that we’d have to make with medical professionals and the state at the table. And that’s really a much bigger decision than just one city,” said Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter.
The discussion also included who should get tested and when. LDH Region 5 Medical Director Lacey Cavanaugh says anyone with symptoms should definitely be tested.
“That includes fever, that includes coughing, that includes the now well-known symptom of losing your sense of smell. It can also feel like sinus symptoms or body aches or severe fatigue unusual for you,” she said.
Cavanaugh says those whose close contacts have tested positive should also get tested.
“We are also recommending close contacts of known positives. Close contact is not a casual interaction that you just walk by someone who’s COVID positive in a hallway, if everybody’s wearing a mask. That’s not a close contact. Close contact is within six feet of someone for 30 minutes. And really, you should be wearing a mask most of the time, so that helps reduce exposure. But six feet and thirty minutes is the definition of a close contact,” said Cavanaugh.
And she explains testing should be done at the right intervals.
“If you’re going to get that test, you can’t take it right away. You can’t get exposed yesterday and run and get a PCR test today because chances are, even if you’re going to get it, you’re not going to be positive on that PCR test. It usually takes a couple of days, five to seven days before that test will turn positive,” she said.
Yet she says it can take as long as fourteen days after exposure to test positive.
Parish officials also announced new campaigns to try to get young people on board with social distancing and wearing masks. They ask people to replace their Facebook picture with one wearing a mask and use the hash tag ,#showusyourmaskswla.