Newell: COVID outbreaks in neighboring states could put Louisiana at risk

Dr. Joe Kanter says some Louisiana regions trending in wrong direction

Newell Normand
June 18, 2020 - 2:54 pm

Louisiana’s Assistant State Health Officer Dr. Joe Kanter joined Newell for his recurring weekly segment Thursday morning to discuss the latest developments in the battle against COVID-19, preventative measures, and the search for effective treatments or even a vaccine. Louisiana’s progress is mostly holding steady, but this week brings fresh cause for concern on a number of different fronts.

“Doc, give us an update as to where we are,” Newell began. “We’re up to about 48,000 cases in Louisiana, but the testing capacity continues to amaze me, we are really racking up strong numbers in that regard.”

“We feel good about the testing capacity, but last week and a half was a bad week for Louisiana,” Kanter said. “Or rather, I should say a concerning week. To put this in context, our neighboring states are going through very significant increases right now. Texas, most notably Houston, which is right across the border. Arkansas is about to exceed hospital capacity pretty soon, which is terrifying, Florida as well… we have concerning outbreaks all around us. This past week, we saw concerning increases in a few regions throughout Louisiana. I don’t think it’s indicative of a significant spike or a full rebound, but it could certainly become that if it continues. It’s worst in regions Four, Five and Six -  Lake Charles, Lafayette/Acadiana and Alexandria. Those regions clearly show increasing case counts, and more concerning, increasing hospitalizations. We’re keeping a very close eye on those. They’re a little better in the New Orleans region. The new cases we’ve seen every day have been fairly flat. As you said, we are doing a ton of testing and our positivity rate in New Orleans is below the state’s average.”

“In my readings, about 40% of the deaths in this country are in nursing homes,” Newell continued. “Do we know how much these increasing numbers in Regions Four Five and Six are coming from nursing homes?”

“It varies - that 40% number is accurate for Louisiana as well,” Kanter said. “But that percentage has gone down a little bit as we increase testing in nursing homes. Today, an order went out to nursing homes across the state mandating routine testing of residents and staff. There’s a lot of resources available to help do that. When we looked at the hospitalizations I mentioned, some of it came from nursing homes, but not the majority. There’s a part of the rise you can attribute to nursing homes, but a very large share of those cases are likely attributable to community spread.”

Hear the entire interview in the audio player below.



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