Coroner’s Update: St. John Parish averaging more than 75 new COVID-19 cases per day

Published 12:33 pm Monday, January 10, 2022

Since my last COVID-19 update in mid-December, St. John Parish has experienced a huge explosion in new COVID-19 cases, mainly due to the new Omicron variant.

Since December 22, we have recorded over 1,300 new cases of COVID-19 infection. This is more than the all-time monthly record of 1,150 cases reported in August 2021. We have been averaging over 75 new cases per day for the past seven days, a number which has never been seen before. As recently as the first week of December, we were averaging only three new cases per day. We are squarely in the midst of a new epidemic! Amazingly, we have yet to record a COVID death from this outbreak, but this will surely change.

Vaccination continues to show protection against severe disease, especially in individuals who have received a booster dose of the vaccine. Over 80% of currently hospitalized patients are unvaccinated, a fact which has remained consistent in the past year since vaccines have been available. Our parish vaccination rate has improved from 47% in early December to 56% as of January 8, a big jump which should help reduce the severity of disease among our parish residents. Hopefully we can continue this upward trend of vaccinations and reduce the severity of illness from future variants of the COVID-19 virus.

Besides antibody infusion treatments, another positive development was FDA approval and release on December 22 of an oral prescription medication, Paxlovid, which has been shown to attack the virus in the body and shorten the course of illness. This is a huge breakthrough and is sure to reduce hospitalizations if given early in the course of illness. The drug is available locally in limited supplies, so contact your physician or pharmacist if you come down with COVID illness, as this drug treatment can shorten the course of your illness. It is also covered by almost all insurance plans.

 — By Dr. Christy Montegut, St. John Parish Coroner