COVID deaths surpass 13,000, health officials urge safety during Hurricane Ida recovery

Local News

"Just because the hurricane has come and has not made COVID any more or less infectious or any more or less dangerous."

BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — COVID-19 remains a constant concern as storm recovery continues, with over 2,000 new cases reported on Friday.

“For people who are recovering, you know, I think that their number one focus right now is getting their homes put together, their families stabilized, their social structure re-stabilized,” said Ochsner Associate Medical Director Dr. Amy Rabalais.

She said balancing both can be challenging for many.

“It is really hard to think about hurricane preparation, hurricane survival, hurricane recovery while you’re still following all of the pandemic protocols,” she explained.

This may have caused some to be overwhelmed. 

“Well, you can’t concentrate on it as much as you want to, because it’s more than one thing happening at the same time,” said Zachary resident Theodore Wiley.

Resident Donald Burnett said regardless, he believes people will stay consistent with their pre-disaster behavior.

“Overall, I think those that are going to be conscious are going to be conscious and those that don’t trust the science [are] not going to trust the science as they continue to do what they do,” said Burnett.

Ochsner said COVID cases are slightly decreasing at the moment, but the risk remains high as Louisiana surpasses the 13,000 mark for COVID-related deaths.

Although these slight dips in numbers can be a good thing. Rabalais said this could change.

“Now, one concern is, are we truly seeing a decline or is this just an artifact of testing after the hurricane? We have had an increase in vaccinations in our community, and that is helpful. And a lot of people have some degree of natural immunity who have now had COVID. But certainly, all of that is playing a part into this decline that we are hoping and praying continues,” she said.

She mentioned that this fourth surge has put a lot of strain on healthcare workers as hospitals remain packed.

“You have hospital workers who have dealt with surge after surge with a national disaster thrown in. They are very tired. You know, they are certainly ready for a break,” said Dr. Rabalais.

That’s why they are urging people to remain diligent in COVID-19 mitigation.

“Now, the first thing you can do to increase your safety is to get vaccinated. So if you’re not yet vaccinated, now is the perfect time to go and find a location to get a vaccine. Continuing with social distancing and masking, especially when indoors is also one of the most effective measures that we have and decreasing social interactions as much as you can with people that are outside of your own home or outside of your own household,” said Dr. Rabalais.

“It is a lot, but we have to. Just because the hurricane has come, [it] has not made COVID any more or less infectious or any more or less dangerous,” she added.

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