COVID cases are on the rise in St. Landry Parish, and its affecting everything from football to hurricane debris.
Parish officials had a press conference today, pleading with residents to wear masks, maintain social distance, wash their hands - and avoid large gatherings.
Parish officials say that debris pick-up for Hurricane Delta has halted because five contractors have tested positive, and the contractor won't send replacements because the positivity rate in the parish is too high.
Superintendent Patrick Jenkins said schools have had to cancel their last football games, and the system is trying to keep school open despite quarantines.
"Our biggest issue is not so much positive, but quarantine. If it affects too many teachers, we may have to go back to virtual learning," Jenkins said. "It is critically important for the safety of our educators, our children and our community as a whole that we all take necessary steps to contain this increase. If we don't, it may lead to the return of students to virtual learning."
Everyone knows what to do; they need to do it, officials say.
"If we neglect to adhere to these guidelines, we're going to be back to some restrictions that we don't want," Opelousas Mayor Julius Alsandor. "We want to get past this, but it's going to take effort from all of us."
Wearing a mask is preferable to returning to Phase I, they say.
"We need you to practice social distancing, and wear your mask, so we don't end up in Phase I," said state Rep. Dustin Miller. "We have to continue the mitigation efforts. Everywhere that contact tracing is happening in St. Landry Parish, it's tracing back to a big event that was held without masks."
Parish President Jessie Bellard said the positive cases in St. Landry Parish have increased 43 percent since last week.
"We have an issue and we're asking that each and every one of you adhere to the recommendations to wear a face mask, maintain a six-foot distance and wash your hands," Bellard said. "Just the basic fundamentals of trying to keep this pandemic in check. We've seen a spike in the last couple of weeks and we're trying to stop this from happening."
Jenkins said the vast majority of positive cases, well over 90 percent, are traced back to community spread, and most often large gatherings.
"Within our region, numbers have gone up significantly and it's having an impact on the education of our children. Help us. Help us continue to educate our children face to face," Jenkins said. "In our community, we're having social gatherings, parties, house parties, large gatherings. These things are contributing to cases in our schools, particularly in our high schools. One positive case can mean a large number of students must be quarantined."
Jenkins asked residents to forego the large family gatherings for Thanksgiving.
"We're just asking the community to help us. If we get to 10 percent positive or above, we have to look at the best ways to educate children. If that many people are out, that's not the best way to educate children," Jenkins said. "Please limit to small groups, immediate family, no large gatherings. Every time we've had gatherings, we've had a burst of positive cases and quarantines. If they could just help us, and don't have those large gatherings."
Here's the full presser:
On Sunday, November 15, St. Landry Parish was reporting 4,261 total cases with 142 total deaths due to COVID-19.
Cases saw a significant increase across the state on Friday when the Department of Health began reporting Antigen test results to their dashboard. To read more about Antigen test reporting, click here.
The state is currently reporting 204,513 total coronavirus cases and 6,132 total deaths. Around 176,107 people are presumed recovered as of November 9.
To see the breakdown of COVID-19 numbers across the state, click here.
LDH updates their numbers at 12:00 pm each day.
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