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Mitigation efforts must continue, Edwards says

John Dupont
Plaquemine Post South

Data that shows half of the top 20 counties/parishes – including Iberville and West Baton Rouge parishes – with respect to deaths per capita from coronavirus reinforces the need to continue the mitigation efforts currently in place, Gov. John Bel Edwards said.

The data from Johns Hopkins University and calculations from Dr. Gary Wagner of University of Louisiana-Lafayette.

The list of parishes also includes St. John the Baptist, Orleans, St. James, West Baton Rouge, Jefferson, St. Charles, Allen and St. Bernard.

Iberville, with a population of 32,721 (as of a 2018 estimate), has had five fatalities related to COVID-19.

The death related to population in other ranked parishes includes:

  • St. John the Baptist 24 (43,184)
  • Orleans 171 (391,008)
  • St. James 6 (21,037)
  • West Baton Rouge 7 (23,788)
  • Jefferson 121 (439,036)
  • St. Charles: 15 (52,879)
  • Allen: 5 (25,605)
  • St, Bernard: 8 (46,721)

Obviously, we have a significant problem and we’ve known this for some time, and this reinforces that we need to continue the things we’re doing,” Edwards said.

Despite the spike in Iberville and other parishes across the state, some encouraging trends have taken shape.

While hospital admissions, as a whole, continue to increase, the number of new admissions has decline. In addition, the number of patients on ventilators has shown a small decline, along with the amount of time that they are in use, Edwards said.

The state may finally have begun the flattening of the curve, but the numbers do not fully constitute the trend, Edwards said.

While all numbers are still high – higher than we would like – we are starting to see real signs that the mitigation measures we put into effect weeks ago are starting to bear real results,” he said. “We are hopeful we are seeing the beginning of the flattening of the curve, and that these efforts are going to continue through additional compliance from people across the state.”

The numbers may provide a much-needed sense of encouragement, but Edwards urged residents to let their guard down.

He fears some may hastily back away from the mitigation efforts in place, even though he believes the state may be beginning to see the flattening of the curve.

The fear is that I’m telling people that, and they’ll say that the task at hand is accomplished and we can go back to doing what we normally do,” Edwards said. “But that is the wrong answer because if we start that flattening of the curve, it’s only because of the mitigation measures and because of the social distancing and the improved hygiene practices, and one thing that Vice President Pence pointed out is the need to stick with the mitigation measures, the stay at home order and the social distancing, all the way through the month of April.”

The arrival of 753 additional ventilators from the National Strategic Stockpile also provided encouragement for the state.

The state is receiving more ventilators when the usage time is decreasing for patients, along with the length of time in the hospitals.

All of these things factor into the modeling of when we might run out of beds or ventilators or so forth, so the mitigation measures, the work in hospitals and the increasing number of beds and ventilators are playing a big part in this,” Edwards said. “But the data points we have been seeing are only going to become a trend if we continue the mitigation, including the hygiene, the social distancing and staying at home.

It’s all very important that we keep it up,” he said. “It’s not the time to become lax and ease up.”