St. Martin Parish President Chester R. Cedars
August 12, 2021
7:00 P.M.

THE STARK REALITY OF THE 4TH SURGE OF COVID-19

As everyone is aware, the COVID-19 numbers continue to rise at an unprecedented and alarming rate. Hospitalizations in the Acadiana Region 4 were reported at 365 today, 15 more than yesterday, and that number is increasing every day. The positivity rate for St. Martin Parish was reported at 22.60% yesterday while the State was at 16.1%. From the perspective of Parish Government, our administrative offices have been operating with reduced staff because of key workers having either become infected with COVID-19 or having been directly exposed to it, thus resulting in quarantines. This situation is common among businesses and other organizations.

Let me state at the outset, I have in the past advocated the wearing of masks while indoors where social distancing cannot be exercised. Moreover, I believe that under the current circumstances, there is no reason why adults should not take the vaccine except for those with medical issues which prevent them from doing so. Of course, I fully recognize that my remarks will ignite a flurry of criticism and comments. Nevertheless, I cannot sit idly by and not articulate about a critical situation. To do so because it may ignite the ire of some people would not, in my view, be proper. Finally, let me clarify that my position on this matter has been the product of my personal reading, review, and evaluation of relevant materials and personal, direct discourse with medical professionals.

As such, an online article in the Morning Advocate this morning has prompted this post. Indeed, that article describes the impact of this fourth surge of COVID-19 in startling terms which simply should not go without elaboration. In addressing the fact that the hospital will soon be compelled to enter the final stage of crisis care, the Chief Medical Officer for Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center is quoted as follows:

“We set that number a long time ago at around 120 patients never thinking that we would get to that point. We prayed that we would never get to that point. And now we’re faced with an oppressive reality of hitting that number in just four short days. And we will manage. We will find ways to care for the patients that are under our care, but I’m afraid that it won’t be to the standards that we generally hold ourselves to.”

Dr. Kaufman further advises that patients will be triaged, and nurses will care for more people and medical response time will dramatically increase. As an aside, he has spoken about this potential scenario on prior occasions.

The picture is equally as bleak at Ochsner Lafayette General. Chief Medical Officer Amanda Logue laments:

“So we are expecting a team coming to us possibly as early as next week to open up more beds in the hospital, the main campus, that will allow us to relieve some of the patients that are waiting for beds from the ER or from the ICU and hopefully be able to reduce a little bit of the congestion. We won’t have them forever, but we will take the help.”

The medical director for Acadian Ambulance, Dr. Chuck Burnell, notes that 35-40% of people transported by Acadiana Ambulance are COVID-19 positive. Moreover, medics are forced to spend more time with each patient they transport because hospitals frequently have no available emergency department beds. As such, the company is now prepared to treat patients onsite as opposed to transporting them to hospitals. In that regard, Dr. Burnell notes:

“I suspect it is coming and what we do in that situation is basically try to do what’s called a tiered response where we look at the acuity levels, just as you would in a hospital or hospital clinic environment. And the ones that don’t mandate transport to a hospital-to try to unclog that system, we’d either treat those people in place or leave them onsite and refuse to transport.”

Since the advent of the “fourth surge,” I am often asked about whether the government will impose crowd limitations and similar measures which we experienced in the past. Candidly, the government will impose nothing. Rather, our community’s own behavior will account for any sort of “lockdown.” At this point in time, there is absolutely no articulable, cogent reason most of our community should continue to refuse to wear masks in indoor setting or refuse to even consider receiving a vaccine. Rather, it seems we are more interested in protecting and advocating our individual ideologue rather than adhering to the advice of medical science and thus protecting our fellow citizens, our businesses, our employers/employees, our healthcare system, and our children. Yes, more children are now getting sick with the virus. Until recently, I understood the reluctance about taking the vaccine. However, I have never understood the failure of some to wear masks while indoors under circumstances where social distancing could not be practiced.

In the Morning Advocate article I mentioned earlier, Dr. Tina Stefanski, the health director for Region 4, sums it up best with these sage remarks:

“I know of no plans for a lockdown. We’re not helpless in this pandemic at this point. We know that vaccinations work. They are effective at preventing hospitalizations and deaths, and we know that masks help to decrease transmission in the immediate phase. We hope that people realize the importance of doing both of those and, of course, keeping gatherings to a minimum.”

Dr. Stefanski’s message is clear and to the point. Moreover, it is an entreaty embraced by ever field of practice within the medical community-locally, statewide, and nationally. We should not need any governmental mandate to do what is right for our community.