SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Most people have had enough of COVID-19 and want to move on from it, but two top doctors in our area say the slight increase in statewide infections is cause for concern.
COVID fatigue is real, but Louisiana Department of Health Regional Medical Director Region 7 (NWLA) Dr. Martha Whyte is concerned that fatigue will lead to higher infection rates and difficulty tracking those infections.
“Most people are done with COVID. They don’t want to think about COVID. They don’t even want to talk about COVID and so they don’t really think to go get tested,” Dr. Whyte said.
There are more than 1,100 new cases of COVID infection in Louisiana since last week; most of those infections are in the southern part of the state.
“We’re about five percent of the cases in this area, but we are definitely seeing an increase,” Whyte said.
At the start of 2022, lines for COVID tests and vaccinations were hundreds of cars long. Now the LSU Health Shreveport COVID-19 Strike Team only administers around 50 to 60 vaccinations a day.
“Most of those that we are administering are fourth doses or second boosters for people over 55-years-old. Maybe five to eight percent of the vaccines we are administering are first doses,” said Dr. John Vancherie, Chief of LSU Health Shreveport Department of Pediatrics Infectious Diseases Section.
In April, hospitals reported the lowest numbers of COVID hospitalizations since the pandemic started, with 37. Now, that number has risen to more than 100.
While those numbers indicate a slow rise in infections, they only reflect cases that have been reported. The actual rate of infection could be much higher.
“The other reason why our numbers may be off, besides people not testing, is that they’re home testing. And so of course, we don’t get the results of people’s home tests. So we do believe the numbers we are reporting are significantly lower,” Dr. Whyte said.
Dr. Vancherie supports Dr. Whyte’s belief that the numbers are likely lower than the actual infection rate.
“We’re a little in the dark on what’s really circulating out there in the community.”
The Louisiana Department of Health announced Wednesday that they will not require the COVID vaccination as part of children’s immunization scheduling. The department stated they would rather schools and parents make those decisions as a community.
Dr. Vancherie says he does not expect reinstatement of any mask mandates but advises that everyone practices prudence.