The incidence of COVID-19 per 100,000 people in the Tangipahoa Parish area has risen 104 percent in the past few weeks, according to state health department statistics released Wednesday.

The incident rate went from 50 per 100,000 two weeks ago to 160 per 100,000 last week to 338 per 100,000 this week.

“It’s looking more and more like we’re getting back to January and February numbers,” Dr. Robert Peltier, chief medical officer, told interviewer Amber Narro on KSLU Wednesday.

Tangipahoa and Livingston parishes are two of the four parishes in the state that have a COVID positivity ratio of greater than 15 percent, Dr. Peltier said. The other two are Ascension and Iberville.

North Oaks on Monday had the highest number in the state – 44 patients, Dr. Peltier said. The second highest was 43 at Our Lady of the Lake, he said. By Wednesday, North Oaks’ number had climbed to 45.

“Our Lady of the Lake is a 900-bed facility. We’re a 300-bed facility. So that tells you the pressure being put on our hospital,” he said. “And we still have our other patients, people who need surgery.”

Peltier said his Tuesday morning visit to North Oaks’ Emergency Room found 12 people waiting on beds.

“It was predictable,” he said. “We have a variant that is much more contagious. People are interacting more.

“The thing that disappoints me mostly,” he said, “is that these cases were preventable. The deaths we’re having are preventable. None of our serious hospitalizations has been among the vaccinated. It’s all been among the unvaccinated. Mostly young people.”

Dr. Peltier predicted the next few weeks will be rough.

“We were hoping the last wave was it,” he said, “but unfortunately it’s back – mostly because of vaccinations.”

He encouraged the public to be more cautious in order to reduce the risk of transmission. He urged people to mask up anytime when out in public, limit contact with unvaccinated people and get vaccinated.

Appointments for the free vaccination can be made at North Oaks by calling 230-SHOT. However, Dr. Peltier noted that the vaccine is easily accessible anywhere.

Incentives

More business leaders have stepped up to provide people with $100 each when they register at Covid100.northoaks.org and get the two-dose Pfizer vaccination.

Ponchatoula businessman Tom Enmon came up with the idea for the Covid100 initiative after learning that the pandemic is surging again in Tangipahoa Parish where some 70 percent of the population remains unvaccinated.

The Enmon family launched the initiative Monday by donating $5,000, and Jani-King Gulf Coast matched it with $5,000. By early Tuesday afternoon, 100 people had registered for all the slots and North Oaks spokeswoman Melanie Zaffuto announced another business had provided $10,000 for a second round.

By early afternoon Wednesday, she announced 200 people had registered, but that wasn’t all. First Guaranty Bank took the ball and donated $10,000, which brought the total to $30,000 available for 300 people.

The Covid100 mass vaccination events will take place at the North Oaks Immunization Clinic, 15790 Paul Vega, MD, Drive, on July 31 and Aug. 21.

The registered participants will receive $50 cash immediately after getting the first vaccine and must return for their Aug. 21 appointments and get the second dose to get the other $50.

Hospital visitation

As of 7 a.m. Tuesday, North Oaks had revised its policy and is now limiting the number of visitors to patients.

Lallie Kemp Regional Medical Center in Independence announced a suspension of all visitation at the inpatient and outpatient services due to the increase in COVID 19 patients in that facility. All patients for all services are required to wear masks.

Following is the policy for North Oaks Medical Center and North Oaks Rehabilitation Hospital: Patients will be allowed to have one visitor/support person at a time between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. Visitors may swap out, but they will not be allowed to wait in our lobbies.

The one visitor/support person limit applies to emergency room, clinic and outpatient diagnostic patients as long as the patient is not COVID-19 positive. The exception is pediatric patients, who may have both parents visit or accompany them at the same time.

Visitors will be screened at the main entrance of the facility and will be required to stay in the patient’s room at all times.

COVID-19 patients, who are not receiving aerosolizing procedures or treatments, may have one visitor per day for one hour a day. Exceptions will be made in end-of-life situations. They will be required to dress in Personal Protective Equipment. Nursing staff will help visitors put on and take off the PPE.

Non-COVID-19 positive laboring mothers will be allowed to have two support people present. Postpartum, one support person will be permitted with swapping allowed, but visitors will not be allowed to wait in North Oaks lobbies.

For laboring mothers who are COVID-19 positive, one designated support person will be allowed for the duration with no swapping allowed.

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