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Lack of address information on COVID-19 patients poses concerns for public safety

John Dupont

Parish President J. Mitchell Ourso has taken measures that he hopes will reverse the increase of coronavirus cases across Iberville Parish, but changes on the state level have triggered a new area of concern.

The Louisiana Department of Hospitals stopped providing parishes the address information of patients, which has heightened concerns over the safety of first responders.

The parish created the map to identify areas with coronavirus cases, but the LDH has stopped identifying them by address, Ourso said.

The case total reached 16,284 statewide and 160 in Iberville, along with eight deaths, on Tuesday, but now the parish cannot track those case areas.

Before that, you could tell the police and chiefs or deputies or Acadian Ambulance that, for example, a positive case may be on Plaquemine Street,” Ourso said. “Now we don’t get that information, and we need to focus on protecting our people.”

He doubts that privacy issues played a role in the LDH’s decision to withhold address information.

Instead, it comes down to the rapid increase in case load, Ourso said.

I think they’re just overwhelmed,” he said.

It does not lessen Ourso’s concern about the whereabouts.

I’d like to update our map,” he said. “People would like to know how many are in Plaquemine or in Grosse Tete or anywhere else in the parish.”

The pandemic has also disrupted every aspect of life in the parish.

Just look around … the schools are closed, the parks are closed,” he said. “Schools and parks are closed, while graduations and weddings are postponed.

We just want to get below the curve,” Ourso said.