Jefferson Parish seeing the highest number of COVID cases in six months
Parish President Cynthia Lee Sheng pinpointed virus hotspots
GRETNA (WVUE) - The number of COVID-19 cases is at the highest it has been in six months, Jefferson Parish President Cynthia Lee Sheng said on Tuesday.
“We’re at an average of 289 cases a day with an average of 14% positivity rate,” said Lee Sheng.
And she made a request of the parish’s unvaccinated residents.
“I’m going to make a personal appeal to any of you all who have not yet had the vaccine and I’m going to simply ask that you reconsider,” she said during a press conference at the parish’s emergency operations center.
Lee Sheng pointed to several hotspots for COVID cases on both sides of the Mississippi River in Jefferson Parish.
“Kenner and the Grand Lake Estates area, a whole chunk of Metairie, David Drive, West Esplanade, Causeway and West Napoleon, that border which is a big chunk of Metairie, Terrytown, and the Marrero and Woodmere neighborhoods, very hotspots. There is a correlation if you look at the data, these are also areas with low vaccination rates,” she said.
Lee Sheng was joined at the press conference by representatives of the Ochsner Health System and the LCMC Health System as well as Coroner Gerry Cvitanovich and School Supt. Dr. James Gray.
Dr. Yvens Laborde, Global Health Director for the Ochsner Health System, says there has been a big spike in hospitalizations in recent weeks due to the virus.
“On June 30, a little more than, a few weeks ago, three weeks ago we had 68 patients that were in-patients in the hospital at that time across our entire system who had COVID at that particular time. And then fast-forward that to just a week we’ve actually seen an increase of over 423% in our in-patient volume of patients at the hospital throughout our system,” said LaBorde.
Dr. Jeffrey Elder, LCMC’s medical director for emergency management said the virus is prevalent in many areas.
“Right now the community is really on fire with virus, it’s all over the place,” said Elder.
And hospitals in other parts of the state also continue to fill with COVID patients.
“Our emergency departments across the region and across the state are full, our hospitals are full,” Elder stated.
The surge in cases is being called a pandemic among the unvaccinated.
“It’s unfortunate that over the past two weeks because I work in the Emergency Department, I’ve had to sit down with patients and tell them you know while they’re on oxygen they’re positive for COVID and I’ve had more than one patient, you know, get very upset and just say, you know, I had the chance and I didn’t get vaccinated,” said Elder.
Jefferson Parish Coroner Dr. Gerry Cvitanovich says in 2020 the parish had over 600 deaths from the coronavirus.
“They may have had other medical conditions but died with coronavirus,” he said. “I expect that number to go up. That’s a fact.”
LaBorde says people who previously had COVID-19 should still get vaccinated because the Delta variant is different from the original virus.
“That natural immunity diminishes over time and so we’re in a situation now wherefrom an epidemiological position it’s completely different, it’s a new virus,” he said.
Sheng says the parish is looking at the legality of requiring parish employees to get vaccinated.
“We’re looking at that from a legal perspective,” Lee Sheng said. “If we start really getting to where we can’t deliver operations to our citizens and to our taxpayers we’re going to have to start looking at that kind of stuff but we’re not looking at that at the moment because we’re still operating.”
The CDC recommends even vaccinated Americans mask indoors if they are in areas where the virus is surging.
“Now is the time that we have to mask again,” said Elder.
Jefferson Parish public school Superintendent James Gray says the district will release its fall safety protocol by the end of the week.
As COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to rise in Louisiana, and following the designation of Louisiana by the White House as a “state of concern,” Gov. John Bel Edwards and the Louisiana Department of Health also issued updated guidance recommending that all people, both vaccinated and unvaccinated, wear masks indoors when at least six feet of distancing is not physically possible.
There are more than 1,400 COVID hospitalizations statewide. Tuesday’s rate was the largest single-day increase in hospitalizations since March of 2020.
Governor John Bel Edwards says 90% of those in the hospital are not vaccinated.
Tuesday the state reported nearly 6,800 new cases of COVID-19.
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