Local experts weigh in on how COVID-19 has affected Acadiana's behavior

It has been exactly one year since the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in the United States.
Posted at 5:34 PM, Jan 21, 2021

LAFAYETTE — 365 days.

That's how long it has been since the first case of the novel Coronavirus was confirmed in the United States. It was diagnosed in Washington state.

Closer to home, here in Acadiana, local experts say that one of the biggest changes in society has been the change in people's behavior towards one another.

“What I’ve seen this year is that the community is even more emphasizing mutual help, mutual support, supporting small business, supporting disadvantaged people," said Dr. Manyu Li, an assistant professor at University of Louisiana focusing on community psychology.

She says our region is no stranger to challenges, following frequent hurricanes and massive flooding.

Dr. Li says that another shift is in how people use technology.

“Zoom… a year ago, people don’t know what that is," said Li. "Now, it’s part of our daily routine.”

The pandemic has caused for some of the most iconic elements of Louisiana's culture, like Mardi Gras, to be canceled. Although the cancellation comes after an increase in COVID cases in the area, Dr. Li says that festivals are an important part of any community, and provides a sense of belonging to individuals.

“We know that this sense of belonging is crucial to our social capital," said Lo. "By social capital we mean the resources that are flowing within a city.”

Dr. Tina Stefanski is the Regional Medical Director at Office of Public Health in Lafayette. She says that this pandemic has taken a toll on our area in many levels.

“This was a very tough year, financially, mentally, physically for people," said Stefanski.

One of the most challenging, and perhaps dangerous, factors of the pandemic is that some people still don't believe that the virus presents a threat.

“If people still hold that point of view, it will be very hard to change," said Stefanski. "We’ve had over 1,000 people in Acadiana die from this virus, in less than a year. Each one of those represents a family, an individual who has touched lives.”

In the coming months, Dr. Stefanski says that people from Acadiana can expect an increase in vaccination efforts, in order to bring us to the "light at the end of the tunnel."

“We are hoping for a very aggressive vaccination campaign, but right now, we are limited by the supply that we have," said Stefanski.

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