LAFAYETTE, La. – (KLFY) As more people are returning to work and participating in entertainment, COVID-19 feels further away from our daily lives, but Acadiana’s leading health expert warns we should still mindful of the virus with every interaction.
Acadiana’s Office of Public Health is taking the fight against the coronavirus to four parishes in a new way starting next week.
Starting Monday, June 15, Evangeline and Vermilion Parishes will receive free mobile testing for the first time. St. Landry and Iberia Parishes will follow starting Tuesday, June 16.
It’s an important measure to understand how the disease continues to spread through our region.
“I do think that it’s important that the community realize that we are continuing to see cases of COVID,” said Dr. Tina Stefanski, medical director for region 4 of the Office of Public Health.
While coronavirus has taken a back seat in the list of some people’s top concerns, it remains the top priority inside the Region 4 Office of Public Health. Dr. Stefanski explained as more communities get access to free testing in their neighborhood, the number of daily new cases remains steady.
“Over the last couple of weeks in our region the percent positivity goes up and down, so there are some days where we see a little bit of an increase in percent positivity and then those numbers drop,” explained Stefanski.
While restrictions on the economy loosen, the doctor urged precautions we take during interactions shouldn’t, “We all want to get back to more normal lives and day to day lives, and so we can do that and do it safely, and that’s really the message.”
The Louisiana Department of Health recommends keeping 6 feet distance between people outside your household and wear a mask when you can’t, wash your hands often, and keep your hands away from your face.
But people who 65 or older or have underlying health conditions such as diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, heart or kidney disease, should still be isolating themselves the best they can because they are most vulnerable.
“Those individuals are in phase zero,” remarked Stefanski “Nothing has changed for them. They still need to be very careful and do everything they can to avoid being potentially exposed.”
Stefanski said the state has plans to evolve testing opportunities as contact tracing develops. When they identify people who may be at home, symptomatic, and unable to go to testing, LDH would try to find a way to bring the testing to them.
According to Dr. Stefanski, “We’re just getting a lot of people who are interested in being tested and knowing.”
Mobile testing will reach over 20 towns and cities across the four new parishes in June. Evangeline and Vermilion testing will be on Mondays and Fridays from 8-11 A.M.
St. Landry and Iberia testing will be on Tuesdays through Thursdays from 8 to 11 A.M. primarily.
Those considering free mobile testing must be 16 or older, bring an ID, pen, plus a mask. Anyone can attend. Symptoms are not required for eligibility.
Dr. Stefanski said it is a self-administered viral test, and results should be ready within six to seven days.