As of Friday afternoon, there were three confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Calcasieu Parish and a local health official projects more to come.
Dr. Lacey Cavanaugh, Regional Medical Director for the Louisiana Department of Health, announced the new cases during the daily live stream of the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury public briefing.
“I fully expect as time goes on, we will have more — there are many tests that are still pending from earlier in the week that we should be getting back in the next couple of days,” said Cavanaugh.
Whether or not someone has tested positive for the virus or not, anyone who is sick should stay home and isolate. They should remain isolated for at least seven days, Cavanaugh stressed. Before returning to any public places, those people should have gone 72 hours fever-free, without medication. Cavanaugh said it is imperative that everyone take “social-distancing precautions.”
Symptoms can take anywhere from two to 14 days after exposure to become evident. A person is at their most contagious when symptoms are occurring.
She said there has been some degree of community spread. “At this point, we are assuming across the state that there is some degree of spread,” said Cavanaugh. “This is no longer an illness that is just related to travel to other places.” She said Louisiana is in the top five states for number of cases per capita.
It’s been documented such hot spots as New York, Washington and California.
Cavanaugh said there have been changes to the criteria for testing. “The best thing to do, if you have symptoms that need to be tested, is to call your health care provider,” said Cavanaugh. The main symptoms include a fever – medically defined as 100.4 degrees or higher – coughing and shortness of breath.
Cavanaugh reported at the 2 p.m. briefing that there are 479 cases, 12 deaths and more than 1,000 COVID-19 tests run throughout state. There are currently cases in 25 of the 64 parishes.
At this time officials are only identifying cases by parish. Cavanaugh said if and when that changes, the public will have access to more information.
“I know it's sometimes difficult to stay 6 feet away from people, but it saves lives,” she said.
Also at the meeting, Calcasieu Parish's top emergency preparedness official confirmed that there are no Shelter in Place or mandatory isolation orders in effect in Calcasieu Parish.
In addressing rumors circulating locally, Office of Emergency Preparedness Director Dick Gremillion said, “I've checked with the Department of Homeland Security, the state and local governments. From the local level, there has been no discussion about it.”
Gremillion asked anyone who receives an email from what seems to be a legitimate government source reporting anything to the contrary is asked to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
United Way Director Denise Durel reminded the public that 2-1-1 is the best number to call for non-emergency COVID-19-related information. The agency will get answers directly from the Louisiana Department of Health or the CDC. She said non-medical questions can be directed there as well, for instance those concerning Social Security checks or other state government services.
The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office has announced that there are no curfews at this time. The State Police have announced there are currently no road blockades in the parish.