St. Martin Parish President delivers blunt message amid COVID-19 crisis

Posted at 6:12 PM, Mar 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-27 19:12:19-04

Fatalities from COVID-19 are now being reported in several parishes in Acadiana.

St. Martin Parish is reporting three, Lafayette, Acadia and Calcasieu Parishes each have at least one fatality.

St. Martin Parish President Chester Cedars said, "That virus can't read parish lines. We need to look at this from a global perspective. How many in our area? Too many."

Cedars was blunt today. He said people need to do their part to stop the spread of COVID-19. He said the virus isn't moving around, but people are.

"I fully recognize that people don't believe this is a full blown medical crisis," Cedars said. "Let's face it, people say this is no worse than the Swine Flu, it's no worse than this or that. Well, every health official in this country, every health official in this state doesn't take that approach. Who the hell are we to challenge that?"

Cedars drilled the fact that people nee to stay at home and heed Governor John Bel Edwards' orders as the number of coronavirus cases and deaths climb not only in St. Martin Parish, but Acadiana.

"The executive order the Governor issued is really very clear," Cedars said. " If you're in doubt, stay at home! That's what the order says. I'm afraid many leaders are pandering to certain industries and businesses to try and get around that order. We should be doing just the opposite."

Doctor Tina Stefanski with the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals said test results are coming back slightly faster.

"These are not old cases. It's important for people now to remain home," said Stefanski. "Don't go out unless you're an essential worker and if you are, go back home."

Dr. Stefanski said they cannot trace where the three people who died in St. Martin Parish contracted the virus. She believes people of all ages need to be vigilant.

"Young people, just like older individuals need to be concerned," Stefanski said. "Mortality is still greater in individuals greater than 80 and with underlying health problems."

Cedars said, "I get the fact that people don't like to be house up, I get the fact that businesses don't like the fact that they have to close. I get the economic impact, I get all of that. The health and safety of our community trumps all of those factors."

Cedars said many people have asked why a screening and testing site is not open in St. Martin Parish. He mentioned the Acadiana region is trying to maximize its resources...including medical personnel and PPE.