LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) — The hurricanes that delivered a one-two punch to south Louisiana have captured everyone’s attention. People are busy cleaning up and rebuilding, but local medical leaders are acutely aware that we are still dealing with the COVID pandemic.
“The last month or two of reprieve has been nice. It’s allowed us to catch our breath and regroup,” explains Dr. Henry Kaufman, medical director for Our Lady of Lourdes.
Dr. Kaufman and his counterpart at Lafayette General Dr. Amanda Logue agree the reduction in positivity rates has helped their staffs.
“At the moment we’re trying to take a little time to get our strength and prepare for what’s coming in the future,” says Logue.
Each hospital is treating, on average, 20 and 25 COVID patients a day, a significant decrease from this summer. But we are entering respiratory disease season when RSV in children and the flu begin circulating.
Dr. Kaufman explains why they are keeping a close eye on the COVID numbers. “Even during normal periods, our hospital’s about 95% full during the respiratory flu season. And if you add COVID on top of that, you can see how quickly the hospital systems could get overwhelmed.”
Dr. Tina Stefanski says, while strides are being made toward a COVID vaccine, it likely won’t be widely available soon.
She wants the public to know following CDC guidelines will be what helps keep those numbers low. “Our best bet we need to buy time if you will for the most effective treatment and for the vaccine to be available. We’re gonna be in this world for months.”
Wear a mask, social distance, and avoid large gatherings. The doctors understand hearing those reminders can be frustrating, but they also know it’s the best way to protect the people we love.
“The fatigue of quarantining and COVID is so real right now. If there was any way I could just get people to double down right now, it is very likely that the measures that we’re doing for covid, it is very likely that they will protect each other against flu,” says Logue.
Dr. Kaufman expresses a similar sentiment, “We’re all sick and tired of this disease and we’d like to see it go away, but now we’re getting into the maintenance phase. We’ve got major holidays coming along and the last thing we want to do is give grandma or grandpa COVID and not have them see a better 2021.”
Doctors are encouraging everyone six months and older to get the flu shot to hopefully decrease the number of people who need to be hospitalized for that illness. The Louisiana Department of Health has set up drive-through COVID testing sites where you can also get the flu vaccine.