Medical officials in Southwest Louisiana say that COVID-19 cases in the region have reached an all time peak as they continue to vaccinate the most vulnerable populations.
In a press conference on Friday, officials including Regional Medical Director Lacey Cavanaugh say they encouraging the community to stay patient as vaccinations continue to roll out.
COVID-19 numbers in Southwest Louisiana are at the highest they have been since the pandemic began. Many cases are found within people between the ages of 18 -29. Many of the deaths reported are from individuals over the age of 60.
In some good news, Cavanaugh says that hospitalizations have seen sort of a plateau. Many hospitals in the region still remain busy.
The supply of the vaccine is still very limited, Cavanaugh said. Currenlty, the supply does not meet the demand.
"Everyone who wants to receive a vaccine can have the opportunity to get one," Dr Cavanaugh said. "it is going to take us some time to ramp up the supply of these vaccines."
If residents are currently eligible for the vaccine, Cavanaugh says that it would be reasonable to get on a waiting list for the vaccine, if possible. "The vaccine will become more available over time," Dr. Cavanaugh said.
If you are a provider who can begin distribution once more vaccines are available, the regional office of public health asks that you reach out to them.
Over 60 sites are currently enrolled in SWLA and more are expected.
Hospitals in the region has stated that many of their locations have seen a plateau in COVID-19 cases with surges following the Thanksgiving holiday. They also feel comfortable that they will meet the demand for the vaccines.
"It will not be overnight, it may be over a few month," Dr. Manley Jordan with Lake Charles Memorial Health System said.
Jordan believes that 225,000 people in SWLA could be vaccinated by September 1, 2021.
"In the months ahead we will have that supply and I feel we need to challenge ourselves," he said.
Health officials are asking that people still continue mitigation measures to keep COVID under control.
Dr. Jordan says that mitigation is shown to work and it has not just with COVID-19. "We are not seeing a flu season here because of these mitigation measures," Jordan said.
Brian Abshire with the Calcaiseu Parish Police Jury says that residents should continue mitigation measures
"When you walk up to the door and see that sign that says mask up, go back and get it. Stay positive and stay patient."
Nick Hunter Mayor of Lake Charles gave an update on his health saying that he is doing well and has since tested negative for the virus.
Mayor Hunter explained that he tested positive after visiting with family on Christmas Eve. He and his wife had tested negative before traveling to see family. After visiting with family he was told that some family members had been around others recently who were COVID positive.
His quarantine ended on Friday of last week.
"We are encouraging people to remember the seriousness of the virus. I have been a big proponent of wearing masks," Hunter said. "Nothing is 100 percent but these things do work."
Hunter says that he knows several people that have recently died of COVID-19 and hopes people will be smart about the virus.
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