Shreveport mayor issues mask ‘advisory’ due to rise in highly transmissible Delta strain
SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - The Delta variant of COVID-19 has become the dominant strain of the virus in the U.S., and as such, LSU Health Shreveport is holding a news conference to update the public on the threat it presents.
At the news conference, Mayor Adrian Perkins issued a mask “advisory” similar to one New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell recently issued. He’s encouraging citizens, even those who are vaccinated, to wear masks while out in public around other people.
“It pains me each and every day to see my community hurt. The spike in COVID-19 cases is extremely alarming,” Mayor Perkins said.
During the news conference, research experts, medical professionals, and community leaders spoke about the pandemic and the emergence of the Delta variant. They also addressed latest case numbers and efforts to increase vaccination rates.
“Since the onset of this public health emergency, I have relied on our medical experts for guidance,” said Perkins. “They are now warning us of the threat that the highly transmissible Delta variant poses to our unvaccinated residents.”
- Dr. Chris Kevil, vice chancellor for research at LSU Health Shreveport
- Dr. John Vanchiere, professor of pediatrics and director of the LSUS COVID-19 Strike Team
- Dr. Martha Whyte, medical director for the Louisiana Department of Health Region 7
- Pastor Roosevelt Seaberry, Union Spring Baptist Church
- Adrian Perkins, mayor of Shreveport
- Jessica Hemingway, vice president of the Bossier Chamber of Commerce
Pastor Seaberry spoke extensively about his experience with COVID-19 after being in the hospital with some dying from the virus and seeing healthcare workers and the families of those hospitalized.
“This is personal for me,” he said.
“I do fear what we are going to see if we don’t see what’s happening right now. What’s going to happen is more deaths in young people. Please consider getting vaccinated. If you aren’t going to get vaccinated, wear your mask,” said Dr. Whyte. “The rapid rise, clusters of cases, young people hospitalized is very concerning.”
Dr. Whyte says hospitalizations have steadily gone up since the beginning of July. In Region 7 in northwest Louisiana, there were 97 people in hospitals as of July 23.
“Don’t hesitate any longer. It’s time to get vaccinated,” Dr. Vanchiere said. “The only way to change the course of this pandemic is to get vaccinated.”
Around 30% of the NWLA community has been vaccinated, health officials announced Friday.
“That means more people will die in this pandemic. We might be halfway through this pandemic. I hoped we are past that, but I don’t think we are,” Dr. Vanchiere said.
The doctor says more than 80% of the cases they are now seeing are from the Delta variant.
“We are seeing a progression of the virus mutating that allow it to be more successful in spreading person to person,” he said.
More children and young people are getting sick and hospitalized. As variants continue to mutate, the vaccine becomes more and more important.
“We reduce the amount of spread in the community and we very clearly save lives,” Dr. Vanchiere said.
On Wednesday, July 21, Louisiana saw its third-highest daily total of COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began in March of 2020. More than 5,300 cases were reported.
Caddo Parish officials will consider reinstating a mask mandate on July 22. In Shreveport, City Council Chairman James Flurry says the council and mayor have not discussed reinstating a mask mandate for the city at this time.
Over at Christus Shreveport-Bossier Health System, health officials say they are also seeing an increase in COVID-19 patients.
Dr. T. Steen Trawick says most of the new patients are unvaccinated. He also says the hospital is prepared if there is as big an influx as the CDC predicts there will be in hospitalizations.
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