St. Tammany coroner warns of another possible COVID surge

Published: Jul. 6, 2022 at 4:59 PM CDT
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ST. TAMMANY PARISH, La. (WVUE) - The St. Tammany Parish coroner has put out a warning that the North Shore may be at risk for another COVID surge.

Officials reported 320 new cases of the coronavirus per 100,000 people in St. Tammany Parish, one of the highest new case rates in the state.

Despite high case counts, Lakeview Hospital on the North Shore says it has not seen a huge increase in patients.

Dr. Charles Preston says parish-wide, about 3% of hospital beds are occupied by COVID patients, far lower than the earlier surge where elective surgeries were canceled at many facilities. He says there were 16.8 hospital admissions per 100,000 residents in St. Tammany last week.

“We are already in a high community risk level. That’s the highest risk level possible that the CDC has. And they are already recommending masks indoors,” said Dr. Preston.

Even though COVID numbers have been on the decline, Yami Pena believes she got it just a couple of weeks ago and is now paying the price.

“I’m worried and I asked the doctor if there’s something he could do and he said no,” said Pena.

The numbers could be even worse than what is being reported due to the amount of home testing.

“[Case counts] are going up. But it’s difficult to see what the case number is because there is such a proliferation of home testing,” said Dr. Preston.

The coroner says one of his employees tested positive last week and he’s reinstated a mask requirement among his employees.

For now, the St. Tammany Corner’s Office is one of the few in the region requiring visitors and employees to once again mask up, but Dr. Preston says that could be changing.

“We are not seeing a lot of mask-wearing right now but it’s probably a good time to start,” he said.

Pena says she’s going to play it safe.

“I constantly wash my hands, protect myself and try and stay away from people,” Pena said.

Pena says she’s worn a mask before and she’ll do it again, although she says she won’t look forward to it.

Health leaders say anyone who believes they have COVID-19 should get tested and treated and avoid the emergency room unless it’s absolutely necessary.

The St. Tammany Health System says they are ready for any surges, should they occur.

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