The number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized at North Oaks Health Systems over the past two weeks has gone from only five to over 40, the chief medical officer said. Many are in the intensive care unit. Some are on ventilators. A few have died.
Dr. Robert Peltier is urging people to remember the basics of virus precautions.
“We’ve moved to Phase I and Phase II, but still the recommendation is if you don’t have to get out, don’t get out,” he said.
Tangipahoa Parish’s positivity rate – the percentage of people testing for the virus who test positive – has grown from a little over 10 percent in the last week of June to 13.6 percent and 20.1 percent over the next few weeks.
“Subsequently, we see the hospitalizations follow,” he said. “It’s directly impactful on how many people get hospitalized.”
Across the state, ventilator use has doubled from 77 to 188 and bed count has grown from 631 to over 1,500 patients since June 25, Peltier said at the end of last week.
As of Monday, Louisiana’s COVID-19 hospitalizations are up to 1,600 patients, 208 of whom are on ventilators.
According to the state department of health, Louisiana’s reported COVID-19 cases are up to a total of 109,917 and reported virus-related deaths total 3,674, including 2,895 cases and 56 deaths in Tangipahoa Parish.
Over 61,456 Louisiana residents are presumed to have recovered from the virus, as of July 19, LDH reports. Over a million people have tested for the virus. In Tangipahoa Parish alone, 33,008 tests have been reported.
Dr. Peliter is trying to quash rumors that masks are possibly detrimental to one’s health.
“It’s just not true,” he said. “For a century, physicians, nurses [and] surgical scrub techs have done millions and millions of surgical procedures wearing a mask for hours on end. We would certainly know by now if a mask was detrimental to their health.”
He encourages people to research what they see on the internet before believing it, especially if it “smells a little bit funny.”
Over 30 studies have shown that masks not only protect an person from spreading the virus to others but also offer some protection for the individual wearing the mask, Peltier said.
Computer models from the Institute for Healthcare Metrics and Evaluation, which can be found on the University of Washington’s website, are now able to predict that Louisiana can save about 400 lives just by doing universal masking, he said.
“Whether you are obligated to mask or not, it’s just a good idea,” Dr. Peltier said.
Free COVID-19 testing is available everyday until Sunday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Mobile Testing Surge Site at Southeastern’s University Center, 800 W. University Ave. People should get their results within 3-4 business days, according to Tangipahoa Parish Government.
People do not need to be symptomatic to take advantage of the free test.
Individuals exposed to someone who has tested positive should wait four to five days after the initial exposure before taking a test, Dr. Peltier said.
North Oaks’ COVID-19 screening hotline is available at 985-239-2778.