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COVID-19 cases continue to climb in St. John Parish: Death rate has declined, according to coroner’s report

`LAPLACE – COVID-19 related deaths are on the decline, but the number of cases is still rising in St. John the Baptist Parish. The parish of approximately 40,000 residents reached 1,000 recorded cases on Friday, July 3.

This number reflects the total number of cases recorded since March, and the vast majority of infected residents are presumed to have recovered. Others are still enduring the virus, as 59 new cases were recorded in St. John from June 28 to July 5. The highest daily increase in that timespan was 18 new cases reported on Friday, July 3.

There have been 87 deaths to date in St. John the Baptist Parish, the majority of which were recorded between March 17 and May 1.

District 6 Councilwoman Tonia Schnyder has kept track of the daily increases, and she is troubled by the complacency she is seeing.

“I’m kind of worried that everyone is getting comfortable and they’re not concerned anymore because the death rate isn’t going up as it was before,” Schnyder said. “Our numbers are still going up, and it’s very alarming. On the weekends, the crowds are still gathering. No one is wearing masks. There’s no social distancing.”

Schnyder does not have a problem with businesses reopening, but she wants to make sure they are following the rules in regard to facemasks, limited capacity and social distancing regulations. She has seen restaurants and venues draw large crowds without concern for safety. Meanwhile, several residents in District 6 have expressed a desire for mandatory mask regulations. Schnyder plans to address this topic at next week’s Parish Council meeting.

“I don’t believe we are strict enough. The death rate has slowed down, but the cases are really climbing now. I know a lot of people personally who have been affected by this. They survived it, but it was a struggle,” Schnyder said. “We are getting too comfortable, and it bothers me. Unless we make things mandatory and have more restrictions, people are not going to follow it. I think we as a parish and as leaders have to enforce that more.”

COVID-19 testing is still being offered in St. John the Baptist Parish. St. John administration informed L’OBSERVATEUR that testing information is changing, and the newest information was not available as of press time Tuesday. Please check lobservateur.com for updates regarding testing times and locations.

Last week, St. John the Baptist Parish coroner Dr. Christy A. Montegut said lower numbers of infections are reassuring but reminded community members not to let their guard down.

St. John the Baptist Parish recorded 108 new cases from June 1-29, an increase of 19 over 89 cases of infection in May. However, there were only four COVID-19 related deaths in June, while there were 13 deaths in May and 71 deaths recorded between March 17 and May 1. From mid-March to the end of April, there were 771 new infections in St. John Parish.

Montegut said most new cases have occurred in people under the age of 50, and the hospitalization rate remains low. The fastest increases in Louisiana cases are now taking place in areas surrounding Lafayette, Lake Charles and Alexandria.

“We need to continue these measures and not let our guard down until we see our statewide numbers declining in every major metropolitan area,” Montegut said.

Louisiana will remain in a Phase Two Reopening model until at least July 24, according to Governor Jon Bel Edwards. If Louisiana is able to move to Phase Three by the end of the month, residents will see increased capacity and unrestricted staffing of worksites. Contact sports and visits to senior care facilities and hospitals will be able to resume under Phase Three.