Latest on COVID-19 in Southwest Louisiana

Published: Oct. 14, 2020 at 10:12 PM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - COVID-19 is still a big factor in Southwest Louisiana.

Region 5 Medical Director, Dr. Lacey Cavanaugh, says the Department of Health is still monitoring COVID-19 in Southwest Louisiana, but tracking the numbers was hindered by back-to-back hurricanes.

“As far as the latest covid situation here, we definitely still have covid in Southwest Louisiana,” Dr. Cavanaugh said. "We are still getting cases across the five-parish region. However, the numbers have been lower. Part of that is due to less testing then we had before the storms.”

Southwest Lousiana was seeing an uptick in coronavirus cases before Hurricane Laura.

"We were on sort of a slow and steady rise. It’s especially important to continue the masking, the hand washing, the distancing, the staying away from large groups because if those things start to return, and people start to gather together again, we will see it come back.”

Dr. Cavanaugh says less people are choosing to get tested right now.

"It’s really hard for people to prioritize going to get tested for COVID, especially if they’re not symptomatic and they’re feeling okay. It’s hard to prioritize that over having a roof over your head and having electricity and having clean water.”

Free testing centers are beginning to reopen, such as the one at the Calcasieu Parish Health Unit.

To get the full experience, I was tested for COVID-19. The process was very easy, and thankfully, my results were negative.

“Testing and number of raw cases is not the only metric that we look at,” Dr. Cavanaugh said. "We also look at COVID-like illnesses. We also look at hospitalizations. We also look at the rate of death, although that is a lagging measure. Of course those numbers are going to look like they’re increasing because we have more capacity now. It is very difficult to compare pre-storm and post-storm. It’s sort of like comparing apples and oranges.”

Health professionals are also concerned about what the combination of COVID-19 and flu season may bring.

"As we get into flu season, it becomes very important to get a flu shot this year because we don’t know what’s going to happen if people get both COVID and the flu at the same time since they both affect the lungs. I think time is going to tell what clinical presentation that’s going to bring.”

Dr. Cavanaugh says during this time it’s important to take care of ourselves.

"As we come back from this, we have to make sure that we consider our health as well. It’s easy to put our health on the back burner because we are worried about so many other things right now, but we can’t but it off. I know that we will get through this. We are one of the strongest communities, I believe, in the country.”

The public testing center is located in the parking lot of the Calcasieu Parish Health Unit, and is open Monday through Friday, 8 A.M. until 4:30 P.M.

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