Experts issue stern warning amid new statewide spike in coronavirus

Baton Rouge area doctors offering stern warning after large spike in COVID-19 cases

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - After the state saw coronavirus cases shoot up overnight Monday, June 22, area doctors say they’re concerned.

The state is reporting more than 1,300 new cases in the last 24 hours, as well as 17 deaths (as of Tuesday, June 23). Experts say most of the new cases can be linked to community spread.

Dr. Catherine O’Neal with Our Lady of the Lake says the virus can spread anywhere from 3 to 14 days, so that means it could have come from any large event held recently where masks and social distancing may not have been a priority— including Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, and recent protests.

”Our community is in danger again,” said Dr. O’Neal. “Social activity spreads this disease unless you’re social distancing and masking, and so we’re seeing that play out.”

There have also been close to 500 of those new cases reported in younger folks between 18 and 29-years-old. Connie DeLeo, an infection preventionist with Baton Rouge General, says while she’s concerned about that younger age group, she’s more concerned about who else they may infect.

”They may go somewhere to a family function and spread that to someone who’s more high-risk like you know, a grandparent or maybe a sibling or family member who’s under chemotherapy or immunocompromised,” said DeLeo.

As the state continues the fight against the coronavirus, DeLeo says the latest numbers prove there’s still more work to do. She believes though a lot of folks are tired of the rules, overwhelmed by the information, and have simply gotten lazy.

”People I think are becoming more lax in mask wearing and social distancing and just paying attention to their surroundings,” said DeLeo.

On June 23, it was announced there could be a vaccine by the end of the year or maybe early next year. While local experts are excited at the possibility, they say even that will not fully make COVID-19 go away. Instead, they encourage folks to get prepared for the long haul and do what they can to keep themselves and others safe.

”If we don’t do that, we’re going to see our family members in the hospital again,” added Dr. O’Neal. “That is what is about to happen.”

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