Is Louisiana seeing an uptick in COVID-19 cases? LDH doctor weighs in

La. sees spike in COVID-19 cases, with 799 new cases in one day

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The fight against the coronavirus is still very much real, and the big question many are asking is are we seeing a spike of COVID-19 cases in Louisiana, specifically, in the Baton Rouge area?

Seven-hundred and ninety-nine new cases were reported in Louisiana on Wednesday, June 17, not including 129 cases from a backlog of testing that took place between April 1 and 9.

WAFB’s Lester Duhé spoke with Dr. Alex Billioux with the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH), who says they’re more worried about the increase in hospitalizations rather than the increase in case themselves. LDH says it’s mostly seeing an increase in cases in the southwest part of the state.

Officials with the LDH say they’ve seen a slight increase in daily coronavirus cases ever since the end of last week (June 7 through 13).

“Much of the additional cases that we’re detecting is a function of the additional tests, but what that tells us though is that a case is a case, and so there’s a lot of COVID out there,” said Governor John Bel Edwards on the radio Wednesday.

With that additional testing, and as the state progresses through the White House’s reopening phases, state officials did predict we would see more cases.

“A lot of it is spreading around and we know that asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic individuals can spread it, and that’s why wearing a mask is so important,” said the governor.

“We don’t want to be back where we were on March 9, March 16, March 22, where we were seeing this dramatic rise, because it doesn’t do anybody any good to shut down the state,” said Dr. Billioux.

Dr. Billioux says the areas seeing spikes in COVID-19 cases right now are:

  • Region 4: Lafayette
  • Region 5: Lake Charles
  • Region 6: Alexandria

What about in the Baton Rouge area?

“So overall in the region, we’re not seeing the same kind of spike yet,” Dr. Billioux said. “If we look specifically at East Baton Rouge, you know, the last couple of days where we’ve seen this increase in cases, East Baton Rouge has often been one of the highest reporters of new cases.”

But this rise in cases isn’t just happening in Louisiana.

“It’s something we’re seeing more nationally, right? We’re talking about all sorts of states that are seeing an increase in cases. If you look at our neighbors in Texas, if you look at Arkansas and Mississippi, we’re surrounded by states that are seeing their own sort of rapid spikes in cases,” said Dr. Billioux.

Dr. Billioux also says LDH has seen a slight uptick in overall hospitalizations recently in these areas:

  • Greater New Orleans
  • The Northshore
  • Terrebonne Parish

But will these new cases across the state impact if Louisiana can make it to Phase 3 soon?

"Ultimately, that's a decision that the governor has to make, and I'm not going to get out ahead of him. My focus mostly is looking at the data coming in," said Dr. Billioux.

Governor Edwards will address the public on June 18 at 2:30 p.m.; WAFB will stream the news conference live.

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