Hospitals change COVID-19 rules as Louisiana’s positivity rate continues to decline

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Published: Mar. 9, 2022 at 5:48 PM CST|Updated: Mar. 9, 2022 at 6:31 PM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - About two years ago, the entire staff at Baton Rouge General would be wearing masks, but now masks are optional for folks who are fully vaccinated.

State health leaders had a watchful eye on Mardi Gras to see if the carnival season would lead to another COVID surge. Tonight, there are only four COVID-19 patients in BRG’s hospitals. Ochsner Baton Rouge only has 11 patients.

“This would be the week, this weekend should be the time that we would’ve seen that surge start, and we’ve seen no evidence that that surge is coming as of yet,” BRG’s Chief of Staff, Dr. Louis Minsky, tells WAFB.

Dr. Minsky says they are following the CDC’s new guidelines for masks. Since East Baton Rouge dipped below 5% in COVID cases, they decided to make masks optional inside of their hospitals.

“So, when this surge went down and the numbers got very low. We started looking for ways to reduce the strain on our staff, it’s been hard to keep staff the nurses are tired, the care givers are all tired,” adds Minsky.

Minsky says the past two years of COVID have been stressful for staff, and being able to them and patients a break is nice.

“We learn to let this virus be part of our environment now because it’s here to stay. We can’t stay masked forever.”

Certain staff and areas of the hospital will have to wear masks. If a patient is coming in for an appointment wants a staff member to wear a mask, BRG says they will comply with the patient’s wishes.

“Patients walk through our doors every day still wearing a mask, and we let them wear a mask. We encourage them to do what makes them feel comfortable,” adds Minsky.

Doctors and nurses hope to see a low number of COVID-19 patients coming into the hospital, they are still encouraging folks to get fully vaccinated or get their booster shot.

WAFB did reach out to Our Lady of the Lake for their COVID-19 numbers and they did not get back to us.

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