EAST BATON ROUGE PARISH, La. (WAFB) - Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome calls the COVID-19 test site on the Mid City campus of Baton Rouge General a beacon of hope for the community. She says this local effort is to bring much-needed relief to hospitals and emergency rooms.
Program manager for BRG, Tre Nelson, says, on Tuesday, March 24, around 100 people were tested in an hour. He says their goal is to provide as many tests as possible per day.
“Flattening the curve, that first key point in all of this is to test,” Nelson said. “Before we know how many people have confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the community, we can’t move into the process of flattening the curve. We’ve ramped up the testing capabilities and our efficiency.”
Mayor Broome mentioned that testing centers across the country have been in high demand. That has caused a seven-day delay for some awaiting results.
“Essentially all private tester, government testers across the country are being flooded all at the exact same point. Even as efficient as we can make the testing site out here and getting people tested, those centers are still getting a high volume of tests in one setting," said Nelson.
Workers have tested 904 people since opening March 16, the mayor says. While not every sick person needs treatment from a hospital, some neighboring facilities are becoming overwhelmed with patient needs. Right now, New Orleans doesn’t have enough beds.
The mayor says that’s not an issue for East Baton Rouge Parish at this time.
“Today, capacity is not an issue in our community, but if we do not flatten the curve and if we do not slow the spread, it will become one in the coming weeks.”
The mayor added that her office is closely monitoring hospital and ICU capacity daily in partnership with the Louisiana Hospital Association and Louisiana Department of Health.
The nurses and staff putting in the long hours are running through protective equipment. Outside of the request for local businesses to donate, the mayor says she has asked the president to ramp up domestic production of medical supplies and personal protection equipment.
“I wrote that we have been exhausting our supplies and have contacted all viable sources with little or no success for resupply," she said.
The mayor says the sooner the community acknowledges that we’re in the middle of a crisis, the faster we recover.
“I don’t know about you all, but I have grandchildren and I want my grandchildren to move beyond COVID-19 and to the bright future that awaits them,” the mayor said. “But my grandchildren and someone else’s grandchildren in school won’t have that if we don’t take this seriously.”
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