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Region 7 LDH director explains surge in COVID-19 numbers


SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Louisiana is on track to double the number of cases reported last week. Nearly 6,000 new cases of coronavirus have been reported so far this week.

The total number of cases is more than 54,000, according to the Department of Health. Caddo Parish has seen a spike this week bringing the total to more than 3,000.

The Louisiana Department of Health said the new numbers are not from a backlog, but rather current tests that took place between June 19 to June 26.

“As we moved into Phase Two and things opened up, I think people took that as the freedom to go and do as though this was over. But the problem is, the virus has not gone anywhere. So now we’re seeing an uptick in numbers. A significant one. Especially among 18 to 29-year-old people,” said Dr. Martha Whyte, Region 7 Director of Public Health.

She said unfortunately young people are considered “super-shedders.”

“The younger your immune system is, the more you are going to be able to shed the virus. So the easier it is to carry it to your family, to your loved ones, to someone who may be sick or elderly or at high risk. So I think in the next few weeks we are going to see that uptick in the elderly and others who young people have brought it home too.”

Whyte said a move back into Phase One, another stay-at-home order, or more restrictions in Phase Two is being seriously considered by state government. The Department of Health is putting more pressure on the State Fire Marshal to enforce guidelines.

“So I hope we can see a greater enforcement in that. It’s really unfair for your younger employees, to put them in a forward-facing job and they’re meeting the public face-to-face and not give them masks and enforce them to wear the masks.”

She said it will be a long time before herd immunity is possible,. so it’s important to do everything you’ve been told: social distance, wear masks, and don’t touch surfaces.

“I think we all need to re-engage. People have really disengaged in this topic. They’re tired of hearing about it. But it’s here and it’s making a lot of people very sick, putting a lot of people in the hospital, and it’s unfortunately killing a lot of people.”

Whyte went on to say that the state needs to do better in order to bring those numbers down. She said it’s possible as other countries are doing so successfully.

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