St. Martin Parish President Chester R. Cedars
July 24, 2020
2:30 P.M.


NEW FORMAT

I again remind you of the new page on the Parish website for COVID-19 information and updates (www.stmartinparish.net/coronavirus).

POTENTIAL OF A HOSPITAL CRISIS

On June 26, 2020, I lamented about the increasing number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in the State of Louisiana generally, and specifically in the Acadiana Region. As a threshold matter, I repeat those remarks which were based on data and information imparted by public health officials:

“I have heard opinions expressed about the number of positive cases reported by LDH being unreliable for a litany of reasons, some of which seem valid in my view. Indeed, I lamented several weeks ago about positive cases in congregant setting being used to determine whether the gating criteria has been met. Nonetheless, despite how one may view the reported data, there is one gating criterion which is reliable, and verifiable, that being the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations. As alluded to previously, the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to increase at a rate described by public health officials as “alarming.” On June 1, 2020, the number of hospitalizations in Region 4 was 46, and on June 25, 2020, the number had grown to 87. It is of extreme import to note that the initial stay at home order issued on March 22, 2020, was based on concerns about our hospitals and healthcare facilities being overwhelmed as a consequence of this pandemic. On March 29, 2020, the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Region 4 was only 25, while today we have over three times that number. Hence, we must not ignore the fact that a continued upward trajectory of COVID-19 hospitalizations will likely threaten the healthcare capacity of our hospitals and medical community.

It appears that the tendency in many quarters is to discount the reporting data of the LDH as mere folly. However, no quantitative or empirical premise is quoted in support of such challenges especially as regards the statistical data regarding the increase in hospitalizations.”

Since that post, the COVID-19 hospitalizations have continued to rise and today stands at 1,600 statewide and at 297 in Region 4. Below are graphs which depict the rate of this disconcerting increase in both the State and Region 4 (Acadiana).

 

Yesterday, the dire circumstances with which our hospitals are confronted were brought into sharp focus by Dr. Amanda Logue and Dr. Henry Kaufman, respectively the Chief Medical Officers of Lafayette General Medical Center and Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center. Dr. Logue candidly declared that, “Our hospital is full, and our ICU is full.” While Lafayette General has a reputation for accepting transfers into its facility, 87% of such transfer requests are now being declined. In fact, the facility is currently having to transfer OUT patients to hospitals as far away as Mississippi. Six weeks ago, Lafayette General had 20 COVID-19 patients. Yesterday, the number stood at 143. According to Dr. Logue, the main campus of the hospital has one-half of its ICU and one-third of its on non-ICU patients with COVID-19. Against that backdrop, she noted, “We have our normal volume of patients we always take care of layered with a large number suffering from COVID-19. There’s just not enough room for that to happen in one place.”

Dr. Kaufman’s assessment of the situation at Our Lady of Lourdes was equally disturbing. He stated that, “Our hospital is full; our ICU is at or near capacity.” He further advised that for the past two weeks the hospital has almost completely halted elective procedures, including serious surgeries such as heart bypasses and early stage cancer operations, noting that, “We don’t see an end in sight right now, and you can only delay these things so long before they begin to have a negative impact on the patient.” His hospital has experienced a 300% increase in cases from what was treated during the initial wave of COVID-19.

Both of these local physicians warned of severe staffing shortages. Dr. Kaufman specifically noted that nurses are contracting the virus as it spreads, thus preventing them from working for at least ten days. The remaining healthcare professionals are working grueling hours. Attempts to recruit assistance from other states have been unsuccessful.

Both of these local clinicians urged residents to adhere to the oft-repeated safety guidelines in an effort to combat the spread of the virus and the consequential excess hospitalizations: washing their hands, avoiding large crowds, practicing social distancing of six feet, and wearing masks when leaving their homes. As to the mask-wearing measure, all of us are aware of the Governor’s mandate and statements that it is possibly illegal in part because it is not premised upon any sort of declared benchmark. It is difficult to digest that position because, as noted in posts on this site weeks ago, we have been admonished time and again that increases in COVID-19 cases would lead to increased hospitalizations which would overwhelm our healthcare systems. It’s time to recognize that we are now at, or at least at the precipice of, that hazard. The basis of that statement in not the opinion of any politician or that of a public health official unknown to any of us. It is a fact which has been presented to us by our local health community.

I again humbly request that all of us follow the measures which have been recommended, and in some instances mandated by the Governor’s Executive Order 89 JBE 2020. Those steps are far less restrictive than those imposed during Phase 1 or the previous stay at home order. I am constrained at this juncture to conclude this section of this post with the following comments from July 12, 2020:

“I am not totally convinced that a governmental mandate alone will stymie the spread of this infection. Last week, I made the public statement that government cannot, and should not, be the parents of the public or the ultimate guardian of its behavior. Government cannot make us do the right thing. In other words, while I have no legal (constitutional) or pragmatic quarrel with the Governor’s temporary mandate under the current circumstances, its success will ultimately be dependent on how we as citizens react to it; i.e., will there be compliance? Will there be enforcement? Interesting, the Governor alluded somewhat to such a position during the press conference when announcing this mandate. Point blank, the Governor clearly and unequivocally commented that the state will NOT succeed in slowing the spread of the virus if the public simply relies on governmental enforcement. In short, the point which surfaces is that the success of the mask wearing mandate REMAINS dependent on the public’s adherence to the dictate.

The bottom line remains whether mask wearing is a productive measure in helping control the spread of COVID-19. Public health experts and the medical community articulate that it is indeed an effective tool. Of course, no one is advocating that the mask wearing apply to any other non-pandemic situation or be anything but a temporary measure. Under such scenarios, such a measure would be overreach under the most basic legal precepts.”


POSITIVE CASES FOR JULY 24, 2020

The news continues to reflect a rise in COVID-19 reported cases (both in number and percentages) and hospitalizations. IN FACT, PER CAPITA, THE STATE OF LOUISIANA NOW RANKS NUMBER ONE IN THE COUNTRY IN COVID-19 CASES-A DUBIOUS DISTINCTION. The report from LDH for this date reflects a cumulative number of positive COVID-19 cases in the State of 103,734 with 3,603 deaths. This represents a statewide increase of 2,084 positive tests and an increase of 29 deaths in one day. The following is the count for our area:

  • Acadia Parish: 2,111 cases, 62 deaths
  • Calcasieu Parish: 5,127 cases, 92 deaths
  • Evangeline Parish: 608 cases, 2 deaths
  • Iberia Parish: 1,869 cases, 56 deaths
  • Jeff Davis Parish: 866 cases, 22 deaths
  • Lafayette Parish: 5,519 cases, 73 deaths
  • St. Landry Parish: 1,774 cases, 69 deaths
  • St. Martin Parish: 1,358 cases, 34 deaths
  • St. Mary Parish: 1,238 cases, 40 deaths
  • Vermilion Parish: 996 cases, 12 deaths

The seven Parishes in LDH Region 4 (Acadia, Evangeline, Iberia, Lafayette, St. Landry, St. Martin, and Vermilion) reflect a total, cumulative number of positive tests of 14,235 and 308 deaths. This is an increase of 203 positive tests and 4 deaths since yesterday.

COVID-19 hospitalizations statewide are 1,600 with 197 patients on ventilators. Since yesterday, the hospitalizations increased by 15, but the number of patients on ventilators did not increase. In Region 4, there are currently 297 hospitalizations with 51 patients on ventilators. This reflects a slight decrease in hospitalizations of 3, but an increase in ventilator usage of 3 in one day. This is the first decrease in hospitalizations since June 11, 2020.

The total number of new positive cases for St. Martin Parish over the last three weeks are:
July 4-July 10: 184
July 11-July 17: 210
July 18-July 24: 182

Over the same time period, the increases in all of Region 4 are:
July 4-July 10: 2,226
July 11-July 17: 2,765
July 18-July 24: 2,769

CONCLUSION

As noted previously, since June 15, 2020, we have seen significant and disconcerting rises in the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. Our businesses continue to struggle, and in just a few weeks, schools will re-open placing in peril our children, teachers, bus drivers, and other school personnel. I am optimistic that the recommendations of public health experts will be followed, and we will start to experience a decrease in the number of hospitalizations and positive test results.