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Coroner’s report: Virus is back with a vengeance in St. John Parish

LAPLACE — After three months of relative calm, the COVID-19 virus has exploded back on the scene in July with a near record 548 new cases of infection in St. John the Baptist Parish. This compares to 76 new cases in June and 78 cases in May. Although we recorded only two deaths from COVID-19 in July, those numbers are sure to increase with the surge in new cases.

The rapid explosion in COVID cases is due to the new Delta variant of the virus, which appears to spread more rapidly and cause more prolonged illness than the original virus strain which started the pandemic. This strain is now dominant in Louisiana and is causing serious illness, mainly in unvaccinated people.

Hospitalizations have increased dramatically in the past three weeks and are straining hospital capacity all across the state. There have been new infections in some vaccinated people, which have accounted for roughly 3% of cases. Most of these cases, however, have been relatively mild with an extremely low fatality rate

{0.1%).

Vaccination remains our main prevention measure against this virus. The vaccine appears to be very effective against the Delta strain, but our state remains in the bottom five in the nation with a vaccination rate of 37%. St. John Parish is doing slightly better with a vaccination rate of 42%. That still leaves 58% of adults unvaccinated and does not include children under 12, who are not approved to get the vaccine.

Unfortunately, mask mandates are necessary again to slow the spread of the virus, with vaccination still available at multiple pharmacies in our parish.

St. John Parish President Jaclyn Hotard last week announced that residents are now required to wear masks in government buildings.

 

Gov. Edwards reinstates mask mandate

 

Gov. John Bel Edwards reinstated Louisiana’s statewide mask mandate indoors for all people age 5 and older as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to rise across Louisiana, threatening the ability of Louisiana’s hospitals to deliver care during this fourth surge of COVID. Louisiana is currently in the worst surge of the COVID-19 pandemic so far in terms of case growth rate, percent positivity and hospitalizations. Louisiana’s indoor statewide mask mandate will stay in place until at least Sept. 1, but may be extended if necessary.

The indoor mask mandate also applies to K-12 schools, universities and other higher education institutions. Face coverings are highly encouraged for those ages 2 to 4 as tolerated.

The CDC released data last week that shows that while vaccination reduces one’s chance of becoming infected with COVID-19, those who do become infected with the Delta variant despite being fully vaccinated are likely at risk of transmitting it to others.

 

St. John Parish Vaccine Information

 

Vaccines are currently available in St. John the Baptist Parish at many locations. If you would like to receive a vaccine, please do not wait. Vaccines are being administered daily at the following locations: Gulf Coast Occupational Medicine in Reserve, Dr. Hickham and Associates in LaPlace, LaPlace Medical Center, Winn-Dixie in LaPlace, Walgreens in LaPlace, The Urgent Care LaPlace, LaPlace Walmart, CVS Pharmacy in LaPlace, The Medicine Shoppe in LaPlace, LaPlace Drugs, Riverside Urgent Care in LaPlace, Pelican Healthcare in LaPlace, and St. John Parish Health Unit in Reserve.

Residents who are homebound in need of a vaccine can call the Department of Health & Human Services at 985-536-4955. Residents who need transportation to a vaccine appointment can call River Parish Transit Authority at 985-651-1141.

A vaccine clinic will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. Friday, August 13. Registration is available at laredcap.oph.dhh.la.gov/surveys/?s=XJLPNCNYLP

If you suspect you have an active COVID-19 infection, call 211 to find a COVID-19 testing site near you.