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COVID cases rise in St. Tammany Parish, hospitalizations double

St. Tammany COVID rise
St. Tammany COVID rise
Published: Jul. 19, 2021 at 7:15 PM CDT
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ST. TAMMANY PARISH (WVUE) - St. Tammany Health System saw its COVID hospitalization number nearly double over the course of just one week. Now, doctors are concerned about the current spike in cases as vaccination rates remain low.

At C&C Drugs in Mandeville, only two vials of the COVID-19 vaccine remain. Pharmacists there haven’t been putting in orders for more vials because they say the demand for the vaccine is low.

“Lots of cancellations, lots of people will make the appointment, three times they don’t show up we take them off the list,” said pharmacist Rebecca Scott.

Scott said the need for the vaccine on the Northshore is just... not there. But she’s worried that may all change as COVID-19 cases rise.

“I thought we’d have a nice safe summer, um but you know, those numbers are changing now and I was not prepared for that. I don’t think anyone was,” she said.

According to the Louisiana Department of Health, St. Tammany Parish clocked in nearly 4,000 new cases over the course of one week. And it’s rising.

At St. Tammany Health System, the hospital staff is feeling the sting. The number of COVID patients doubled within a week.

“The concern is we don’t know when it’s gonna top out,” said Dr. Mike Hill, who specializes in infection prevention at St. Tammany hospital. He said the hospital went from 16 COVID patients to 32-- a surge he’s concerned about.

“We are seeing people getting very sick. We are seeing some of our patients here in the hospital saying ‘if I knew I was gonna get this sick, I would have taken the vaccine’,” said Dr. Hill.

He said a majority of those diagnosed are between the ages of 18 and 30, and the Delta variant is to blame.

“Everything we’ve learned about Delta or heard about Delta variant is coming true,” he said.

At St. Tammany Health, doctors are seeing vaccine breakthroughs with the Delta variant infecting people who are vaccinated. Although they say it is rare.

“I wish I could convince our community that this is preventable that the majority of us don’t have to get sick if we get vaccinated,” said Dr. Hill.

Scott said she personally did not expect to see the numbers increase this summer. “It is concerning, you know? What is it gonna look like in fall?”

An unknown future lies ahead for communities like those in St. Tammany Parish, and for those on the front lines.

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