Cenla health officials weigh in on rise of COVID-19 cases in La.

Health experts around Central Louisiana say COVID-19, the virus people know all too well, never truly left.
Published: Sep. 13, 2023 at 6:13 PM CDT
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - Health experts around Central Louisiana say COVID-19, the virus people know all too well, never truly left. In May, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency. Since then, especially in the past couple of months, Louisiana has seen a rise in COVID cases and hospitalizations in the state, with health experts explaining that the virus is here to stay.

“The COVID that we saw a few years ago and the COVID that we see now, the intensity is less,” said Dr. Praveen Budde, a hospitalist who works in the intensive care unit at Rapides Regional Medical Center (RRMC).

Dr. Budde worked at RRMC during the pandemic’s beginnings in early 2020. He said the intensity going down is a result of people taking the COVID-19 vaccine and taking care of themselves.

“I think it’s still out there, it will be there with us, so all we have to do is be careful and take medications appropriately and take vaccinations,” Dr. Budde said.

Arslan Khan, a medical student working at Community Healthworx in Alexandria, said his education was hindered from not getting first-hand experience in the medical field due to COVID-19. Now, it is a much different landscape, and Khan wants it to stay that way.

“We just don’t want it to become a pandemic again,” said Khan. “We feel like it’s never going to really be controlled unless we have mass vaccination. Just because that’s going to help, again not prevent you from getting it, but maybe lessen the symptoms and possibly prevent it.”

According to the Louisiana Department of Health, the average number of COVID cases in a seven-day span grew from 170 cases at the end of May, to an average of 1,027 cases at the beginning of September. LDH reported an average of over 240 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 around the state between August 28 and September 13.

On the nationwide level, the CDC reported approximately 19,000 hospitalizations in the U.S. from August 27 to September 2, a nine percent increase from last month. While the virus is still present, medical professionals believe we are not out of the woods just yet.

“COVID is sort of forgotten, but it’s definitely not gone,” said Dr. David Holcombe, medical director at Community Healthworx.

Dr. Holcombe said while the virus is not like it was at the peak of the pandemic with the delta and omicron variants, people still need to be careful and get vaccinated.

“Getting the disease or getting vaccinated does not mean you’re immune, it means you’re more resistant, so we’ve built a certain level of resistance, but not complete immunity like you would get with measles vaccine or mumps,” said Dr. Holcombe.

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