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Shreveport health officials express concern as La. sees third-highest daily COVID-19 case count since start of pandemic

Northwest Louisiana health officials are concerned about the recent rise in COVID-19 cases,...
Northwest Louisiana health officials are concerned about the recent rise in COVID-19 cases, particularly the Delta variant of the virus.(Stock photo)
Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 1:43 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 21, 2021 at 7:55 PM CDT
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SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - On Wednesday, July 21, Louisiana saw its third-highest daily COVID-19 case count since the pandemic began in March 2020.

Dr. Martha Whyte, medical director for Louisiana Department of Health Region 7, spoke with KSLA’s Tayler Davis about this drastic increase in cases. KSLA also spoke with the vice president of human resources at Ochsner LSU Health Shreveport about recruitment efforts.

More than 5,000 new cases were reported on July 21 in Louisiana. In Webster, Bossier and Caddo Parishes are still in the single digits in positivity rates, but their numbers have doubled and jumped to the “highest” category.

These three parishes are seeing positivity rates above 5 percent, and majority of the cases are those unvaccinated and below the age of 50.

Northwest Health Director Martha Whyte says last week area hospitals saw 30 COVID patients, but now that number has tripled.

“We’re up to almost 90 people in the hospital with COVID, so it’s tripled,” she said.

The American Hospital Association reports say nearly 30 percent of healthcare workers have thought about leaving their job and 60 percent say the pandemic has impacted them mentally.

“We’re also short staffed, we know that people have left working in hospitals. They got worn out and burned out and so that’s another concern about how will they staff,” she said.

Ochsner LSU Health Vice President of Human Resources Rob Lindsey says recruitment is not easy.

“Recruiting during a pandemic, you have to be very flexible. You have to be creative and have a heavy use of technology,” he said.

Lindsey said hospitals across the United States are offering incentives to get more people on board as cases take a major spike.

“We’re seeing, not just in northwest Louisiana, and nationwide, increases to pay. We have become very good at offering capacity differentials, referral bonuses and shift pay,” he said.

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