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Montegut: COVID-19 increases again in St. John

The COVID-19 epidemic has had a resurgence in St. John Parish since July 1, with 315 new cases being reported as of July 27. This compares with 108 cases in June and 89 in May. Our peak month was April, where we had nearly 700 cases of new infection. This surge in cases has occurred in the general community with the vast majority of cases being on the East Bank of the parish.

Most cases have occurred in people between the ages of 20-40, with few cases over the age of 65 and very minimal effects on our local nursing homes. Amazingly enough, there have been only two deaths attributed to COVID-19 infection in July in spite of the large increase in cases. This is thought to be due to the younger age of patients who have much fewer chronic medical conditions than the older population.

This has coincided with a surge of new cases across our state and country, particularly in the South and Southwest. Arizona, Texas, Florida, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi have seen significant increases in new cases in the past 30 days. Fortunately, the death rate has not been as high as the initial outbreak in March and April, but infection can possibly lead to permanent lung, heart, or kidney damage even in patients with mild symptoms.

The hospitalization rate from our parish has also been below average for the numbers of new cases – a ray of hope in this continuing epidemic. The virus remains highly contagious, thus the continuing need to avoid large gatherings, practice social distancing and wear facemasks in public. The Center for Disease Control has stated that it requires only 10 minutes of close social contact for the virus to be transmitted. Therefore, keep your encounters brief and stay home if you notice any signs of illness, especially fever or respiratory congestion.