Stefanski: Emergency room visits and hospitalizations are rising in Acadiana as COVID-19 spreads

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LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY)- Community testing events are becoming more and more frequent as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

Lafayette General Medical Center says they’re prepared to test over 600 people this week, but Regional Medical Director of the Office of Public Health in Acadiana Tina Stefanski says there’s still cause for concern.

“Frankly, it should concern all of Acadiana. Our numbers are the highest in the state, not only with individual case counts of positive cases. Our rate of growth is high. We’re seeing an increase in emergency department visits for coronavirus-like illnesses, and we’re also seeing an increase in hospitalizations,” Stefanski said.

She says the highest growth rate right now is in the 18 to 29-year-old age group, particularly those between the ages of 18 and 21.

“I’m really concerned to see what’s to come in a couple of weeks when we start to see those cases unfortunately spill over into older individuals because it’s only natural that as we have more virus circulating in the community at some point we’re going to see an increase in older individuals,” Stefanski added.

Karen Wible with Lafayette General Health says they are seeing an increase in hospitalizations, but many patients are in that younger age group. That means their hospital stays are often much shorter than others.

“While we have an increase in numbers, it’s a younger age group, and those tend to recover quickly from it and so they are not readily as hospitalized as someone with health risks or the elderly,” Wible said.

She says because younger peoples’ hostitalizations are much shorter, the hospital isn’t overcrowded right now, but they are preparing for an influx in cases amongst the older population again.

“As we’re seeing the increases coming now, we’re ready. This is not a reactive move. It’s been very proactive in that we understand there’s another outbreak coming out there,” she told News Ten.

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