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A Tale of Two Parishes: Rural parishes share different struggles, experiences in their COVID battle

Published: Aug. 16, 2021 at 10:41 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Thompson Creek is all that separates West and East Feliciana Parishes, but they are worlds apart when it comes to vaccination rates.

According to West Feliciana Police Jury President Kenny Havard, around 80% of people in his parish have received a COVID shot. However, East Feliciana OHSEP Director Jody Moreau says they’re significantly behind their neighbors with only a 30% vaccination rate.

“I think everybody in this community knows somebody through family or friends that has passed away in the past week and a half,” said Moreau.

Moreau says East Feliciana had some of the lowest COVID numbers in the state this time a year ago, but this latest surge tells a different story.

“It’s like there’s a lack of concern this time around that we didn’t see here before,” said Moreau.

Moreau explained that a big part of their struggles is that people and businesses aren’t enforcing the mask mandate.

Just last week, Moreau had to call on the State Fire Marshall’s Office for help. He says businesses could suffer at the hands of the state if something doesn’t change quick.

”If you enjoy shopping locally at your local mom and pop, or your local merchant store, and you want to set them up for failure, then don’t be upset when you have to go to Baton Rouge or elsewhere to do your shopping for next week,” said Moreau.

To help push their trend in a positive direction, East Feliciana will hold a mass vaccination event all next week at their fire departments in Clinton, Slaughter and Jackson.

Even with West Feliciana’s impressive vaccination rate, their Parish President believes they can still do better.

“We’re concerned about it, but the most important thing we can do is protect the people of the parish and that’s what we’ve done since the beginning.”With events like the Tunica Hill Festival coming up this weekend, Havard says they plan to set up vaccination tents to help get more shots in people’s arms.”

If we were at 36% or a 40% vaccination rate, we probably wouldn’t be having this festival, but we’re at double what everyone else is in the state so I think it’s time that we be given some relief and basically a carrot to the right thing,” said Havard.

Moreau remains hopeful they can eventually hit those numbers. He says he hopes it won’t have to take more people dying to get there.

”I really don’t know. I’m banging my head against a wall trying to figure that out. If knowing people are dying and seeing the numbers that are coming out are not warning enough, then I really don’t know,” said Moreau.

East Feliciana’s Vaccine Drive will take place August 23rd-27th. Here’s the location and information for each day:

Clinton Volunteer Fire Department

9506 Plank Road, Clinton, LA 70722

August 23rd and 24th From 10:30am to 5:30pm

Slaughter Fire Department

819 E. Railroad AVE, Slaughter, LA 70777

August 25th and 26th From 10:30am to 5:30pm

Jackson, LA Fire Department

1631 Charter Street, Jackson, LA 70748

August 27th and 28th From 10:30am to 5:30

The Tunica Hill Festival & Jam in West Feliciana will take place August 21, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

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