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St. Landry Parish officials: Stay home to save lives

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Posted at 10:28 AM, Mar 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-31 14:26:48-04

St. Landry Parish officials pleaded with residents to stay home and avoid gatherings today.

Kenneth Cochran, the CEO of Opelousas General, put it most plainly.

"This is not a game or a political statement. Please join health care workers in actively saving lives by staying home," Cochran said.

St. Landry residents should expect an increase in COVID-19 cases as more testing is put in place, officials said at a press conference this morning, he said.

"Please know that Opelousas General is here. We are more prepared today than we were a week ago. And we'll be more prepared in a week than we are now," he said. "But we're trying to prepare for a situation we've never seen before."

Cochran said people should remember all the health care workers who are "waking up every day and making a choice to do their job and serve their community."

He also cautioned people against making judgments at this time.

"It's a new virus. I know you're hearing different stories, every day," he said. "Most of the time we live off of medical information that has been vetted, changed and updated for years. You're seeing the study of medicine at its raw moment. When you see a new fact every day, don't think they were wrong the day before. They're just actively researching and learning every day."

Several officials asked residents to stay home, stop holding family gatherings, and limit grocery trips to once a week by one family member. Bringing the entire family to Walmart is not following the order.

"This virus is serious, something I never thought I would experience in my life," said State Rep. Dustin Miller. "The ventilators and PPEs are coming in, but at a slow rate. We're trying to be as prepared as we can be. But our capacity for critical care beds in Acadiana is filling up. We need to do our part. I mean stay home. There's no reason to invite the family over. There's no reason to be playing dominoes on your porch with six other people. You can still be a carrier with no symptoms. Try to limit that trip to the grocery store to once a week. And just one person needs to go. Don't take the whole family. We've got to limit the peak of this curve."

Cochran said he has heard complaints that COVID-19 victims aren't being identified. That is not going to happen, he said.

"Our first death here, that patient was somebody's wife, mother, daughter and sister. Her family deserves privacy and time to mourn. People who have come in contact with infected people will be notified," he said.

Opelousas General is currently converting its entire fourth floor to an isolation unit. That will increase the number of isolation rooms from the current seven to 41, he said. That should be done by the end of this week.

Officials also reiterated information for local workers and businesses. You can find most of that information here.