LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Dr. Lacey Cavanaugh said Thursday she’s seeing the demand for testing go down and the number of new cases steadying but warned the public we still have some way to go before we’re in a “good place.”
Cavanaugh said the number of people going out to get tested in Southwest Louisiana has gone down for a number of possible reasons, such as less exposure to COVID-19 or state efforts to educate the community on who needs to get tested, and when.
“In June, we sort of had this testing frenzy, where everyone was testing,” Cavanaugh said. “They were testing even if they were a second-degree, or a third-degree contact, sometimes when a test may have not been actually needed.”
People were testing to try to return to work by showing their results were negative, sometimes taking multiple tests to prove it.
You can test positive up to 14 days after you’ve been exposed to COVID, which is why those who have symptoms of COVID-19 are encouraged to get tested, Cavanaugh said.
“We are now really using that symptom-based strategy and not the testing-based strategy to get people to return to work,” Cavanaugh said.
If you’ve been exposed to COVID-19, you need to quarantine for 14 days.
“If you’re a close contact or an exposure, most people are going to start testing positive around that ‘Day 7’ window or a little before,” Cavanaugh said. “If you get a positive test, it’s helpful - but if you get a negative test during that window, then it does not mean for sure that you couldn’t develop COVID. So, you still need to isolate for 14 days.”
Cavanaugh discussed the number of new cases in Southwest Louisiana, which seem to have leveled off a little bit but reminded everyone this is still a very early and preliminary trend.
“We have to remember that the data actually lags two weeks behind what is happening on the ground in the community because tests sometimes take a while to come back.”
Cavanaugh said although case numbers aren’t increasing dramatically, it’s still at an extremely high rate, mentioning hospitals at full capacity.
Infection prevention coordinator June McBride with West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital reported they’ve been on ‘ICU divert’ for three weeks now, meaning all the beds are filled and they are at max capacity.
“Forty-two percent of our patient population is COVID positive or pending,” McBride said. “Our ICU is full with 75 percent of those patients being COVID positive. [On the] second floor, where we house the majority of our COVID patients, is full and 82 percent of those individuals are COVID positive.”
McBride said they’re able to meet staffing needs at the present but there are still challenges to overcome.
Due to the restrictive visitation and limited family at the hospital, McBride said the staff has not only provided medical care, but they’re also showing compassion and support for patients in absence of their family and friends.
McBride praised employees for their perseverance and strength and called on the community to do their part.
“Our healthcare workers are tired, we’ve been going through a lot,” McBride said. “Everything you’re facing, they’ve experienced, and then they still show up, and they’re still doing this.”
As health officials continue to monitor, Cavanaugh urged people to trust their doctor, provider, and local professionals.
“When it comes to decisions about treatment and about COVID, talk to your doctor and trust our medical community and please support them, because I think that will go a long way.”