Billioux: Number of cases not key to reopening
Just because the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 continues to climb, that doesn’t exactly mean things are getting worse in the state — or that the state will not be able to continue to reopen.
That’s the message Dr. Alex Billioux, assistant secretary of the Louisiana Office of Public Health, stressed in a recent media interview.
Billioux explained that part of the reason for the uptick in the number of cases is the fact that the state has doubled the amount of testing.
“We’ve exceeded, essentially doubled, what the White House has given us as a goal for testing,” he said. “And so as you test more, you’re going to find more cases. So just in isolation, seeing more cases not enough for us to feel that things are getting out of hand.
“What you really want to see is what’s going on with hospitalization, what’s the severity of the illness, and also what’s the rate of rise in those cases.”
The number of cases in the state is now at 41,133, an increase of 387 since Tuesday.
A total of 2,759 people have died of the disease in Louisiana as of Wednesday. This includes 35 more deaths than were reported on Tuesday.
The Louisiana Department of Health reported that 617 people are hospitalized and that 86 require ventilators.
In Acadia Parish, the number of cases increased by 18 since Monday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the state to 446.
Twenty-six deaths have been attributed to the virus in Acadia Parish, an increase of two since Tuesday.
Louisiana has been fighting through the COVID-19 pandemic for months. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the virus was raging through the state well before the first official confirmed case was found on March 9th.
On Friday the state will be progressing into “Phase Two” of economic reopening, after many businesses were closed in late March. During the “Phase One” of reopening, restaurants and retail businesses that were previously closed, were able to open at 25 percent capacity.
Now in “Phase Two”, many will be opening to 50 percent capacity.
The reopening steps are all allowed because of the decreases that the state has experienced in COVID related illnesses.
After weeks of work to “flatten the curve” of new cases, the state has seen incredible decreases in hospitalizations and ventilator use since mid-April. Over the last seven days alone, the number of COVID patients in hospitals has dropped by nearly 200. Ventilator use across the state has dropped below 100 patients over the last week as well.
But while all of those hospitalization numbers have decreased, cases have been building.
Louisiana has regularly reported 300 to 400 new positive COVID-19 cases every day. The state’s grand total of confirmed cases topped 40,000 this past weekend. Even with thousands of new cases each week, the state has still had a steady decline in hospitalizations and ventilator use.
And as long as the hospitalizations remain under control, the state will be moving forward, according to Billioux.
June 3 / La. Dept. of Health
• Acadia - 446 cases (up 18 from Tuesday), 26 deaths (up two from Tuesday)
• Evangeline - 81 cases (up one), 1 death (no change)
• Iberia - 418 cases (up seven), 38 deaths (mp change)
• Jeff Davis - 78 cases (no change), 7 deaths (no change)
• Lafayette - 821 cases (up 18), 27 deaths (no change)
• St. Landry - 269 cases (up three), 54 deaths (no change)
• St. Martin - 306 cases (up six), 23 deaths (no change)
• St. Mary - 328 cases (up five), 32 deaths (up one)
• Vermilion - 58 cases (up one), 3 deaths (no change)