Why isn’t LDH tracking the number of people who have recovered from COVID-19 in Louisiana?

Why isn’t LDH tracking the number of people who have recovered from COVID-19 in Louisiana?
Louisiana Office of Public Health (Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - As the case numbers climb past 1,300 in Louisiana, according to the Louisiana Office of Public Health, it’s important to remember some of the people in that number have nearly recovered.

So is the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) tracking the number of people who have recovered from COVID-19? And how long will those people still be counted in the total number of cases?

At a news conference Tuesday, March 24, Dr. Alex Billioux, assistant secretary for the Office of Public Health at LDH, said most people who test positive for the coronavirus will likely see mild symptoms, and they may not even have to go to the hospital.

But it has been hard for them to collect the data about those who have actually recovered from the virus.

“I hate to use the cliché, but it was like I’d been hit by a truck, and it [my body] still aches,” said Carolyn Scofield.

Right after Mardi Gras, 39-year-old Carolyn Scofield came down with a runny nose and a little bit of a sore throat. That turned into stomach aches, chills, and a fever.

Carolyn Scofield out enjoying Mardi Gras
Carolyn Scofield out enjoying Mardi Gras (Source: Carolyn Scofield)

“I felt horrible. The only way I like to describe it is I like to tell people I felt like a reanimated corpse. I just laid on the couch all day and just felt awful, and my nose was running like crazy. I had a really terrible cough and had this rattling in my chest, but it sounded like a crackling,” said Scofield.

Her doctor thought it was walking pneumonia, and initially prescribed her antibiotics, but she was still feeling poorly. Last Tuesday, March 17, Scofield finally got tested for COVID-19 because she still had symptoms and was exposed to someone who had the virus.

“The results came back this morning [March 24]. They said it was positive," she said. “The person who called me said it was taking a long time to get the results back. In fact, so long, everybody he had called this morning to let them know, everybody was already getting better.”

Scofield, like many people in Louisiana and across the country, are recovering from the coronavirus, but as the case number gets higher in Louisiana, keep in mind some in that scary number are already feeling better and getting better.

Carolyn Scofield after being tested for COVID-19
Carolyn Scofield after being tested for COVID-19 (Source: Carolyn Scofield)

LDH says for some reason, they’re struggling to keep up with those who have recovered.

“We’re hoping and praying and working to make sure as many people recover as possible. Capturing that data has proven more difficult than most people would think is reasonable,” said Governor John Bel Edwards.

Louisiana’s first confirmed case of the coronavirus was a little more than two weeks ago, which is about the time someone who tests positive for COVID-19 is supposed to quarantine themselves.

The governor says he hopes in a few weeks we will be able to see the numbers of patients who have recovered increase.

But LDH says the growth in Louisiana's number is the real challenge.

“We have a team who’s focused really on, as we have a new case, reaching out to that individual, finding out the context in which they had COVID, anybody that they might be in contact with, giving them advice on isolation and things like that. That same team, normally, if we were talking about a handful of cases, would be the team following up to see if they were recovered. And when we’re adding 300 cases in the evening, we just can’t have a team deployed that way,” said Dr. Billioux.

Right now, LDH is looking at different technology to get that information out about people who have recovered from the coronavirus in the future.

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