Doctors investigate two new COVID clusters affecting young New Orleanians

Updated: Jun. 20, 2020 at 8:56 AM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Health officials are investigating two new clusters of COVID-19 affecting young people. They say the clusters are both out of Orleans parish and are likely linked to large gatherings of high schoolers.

"Your actions can prevent both future deaths and new restrictions."

Mayor Latoya Cantrell tweeted the message, Friday afternoon, along with an article about new COVID clusters. The city's article indicates the two, separate clusters likely originated from a New Orleans graduation party and a large, non-physically distanced gathering at a bar in another parish.

Health officials with the city and state are investigating and believe the clusters are affecting young, Orleans Parish residents.

“By and large teenagers do well with COVID. On average, they don’t get very sick. That doesn’t mean they always do well. It is still possible, if you’re a young adult, to get very sick with COVID and we have seen cases,” said Dr. Joseph Kanter, with the Louisiana Department of Health.

Leaders with the Louisiana Department of Health say these young people also risk unknowingly exposing their parents or grandparents to the disease.

"Those individuals might not do as well with covid. it's serious. We are in the middle of a pandemic. It is not a game. An outbreak like we're seeing now, based on events that happened over the last two weeks, can have a far-reaching and serious ramifications," Kanter explained.

Healthcare professionals with the state say they’ve seen an increase in positive cases at New Orleans mobile testing sites, indicate a possible increase in community spread. Statewide, numbers are rising both in cases and hospitalizations.

"It's the end of the year, it's a time we are used to celebrating. It's time we take family vacations. It's a time to want to congregate," said Health Educator Dr. Eric Griggs, M.D.

Griggs says the numbers are not unexpected. But city officials urge residents, especially young people, to take immediate precautions to prevent further spread or possibly face more restrictions.

“You’ve heard me say for three months now to wash your hands, wear your mask and socially distance. Nothing has changed with the virus. There is still no vaccine, no treatment and no cure,” Griggs said.

City Health leaders urge anyone who has taken part in a non-physically distant gathering without masks to quarantine yourself for 14 days and to get tested if you’re concerned about exposure or develop symptoms.

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