Despite encouraging COVID 19 numbers, a warning against relaxing social distancing habits

Updated: May. 20, 2020 at 9:14 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) -At one point, Jefferson parish saw the most positive diagnoses of COVID 19 in the state, a number that councilwoman Jennifer Van Vrancken says they were keenly aware of.

“We’re going to continue to have new cases this is not going away we all know COVID is not going to disappear, what’s important is that our hospitals are not overwhelmed we have slowed that spike,” Van Vrancken said.

Just wrapping a day of testing at their new Metairie location, Van Vrancken says it’s through rigorous testing measures like these that have helped bring those numbers down.

“So that’s not a concerning number to us more so than normal we think we’re just being aggressive in our testing of a large population,” Van Vrancken said.

“This is all part of the plan that’s so far has been working very effectively it’s a real credit to the communities,” LSU Infectious Diseases Dr. Fred Lopez said.

In assessing COVID 19 in those communities, hospitalizations are only one aspect of the equation. Lopez says with fewer than 1,000 hospitalizations in the state it indicates Louisiana is on the other side of the curve, but that number reflects what was being done nearly a month ago because of the virus’s incubation period.

“These are all indications the interventions put into place are working, so now is not the time to relax. We’re in phase one, we still have many restrictions that are put into place for businesses and other venues,” Lopez said.

Orleans parish still leads the state in the number of deaths, and with Jefferson parish having shown high case numbers, Lopez cautions against relaxing social distancing measures especially as the state is only days into phase one. He says the dip in numbers may also be seasonal.

“We just have to hope we don’t see a resurgence in the number of cases and find ourselves back where we were a number of weeks ago… we may see a decline and then an upsurge in cases again in the fall and winter, hopefully, will be talking about vaccines at that time,” Lopez said.

Because as the number of cases, deaths, and hospitalizations decrease, the message is the same: wear masks, practice good hygiene, and social distancing.

“We’re not out of the clear we’re better than we were months ago,” Lopez said.

Van Vrancken is hoping given the data, Jefferson parish moves to phase two in June.

While Lopez estimates anywhere from 5-20 percent of the population could be immunized now, he says models also show the number of estimated deaths across the country has increased to more than 130,000 by August.

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