The Acadiana region is outpacing other regions of the state in new COVID-19 cases.  The region’s case count of Tuesday was the highest on record and Dr. Tina Stefanski, regional medical director of the Office of Public Health in Acadiana, believes the area is just late to see the first wave.

“This just might be the natural next step where we see this increase in our region of the state when we didn’t see it before when other parts of the state were experiencing increases,” said Stefanski.

On Tuesday, 354 cases came from the region, making up more than a quarter of the state’s total case count, nearly double the share of the next highest region. Of the tests taken in the region, 11.1% came back positive. That's higher than the federal recommendations in moving forward in economic reopening.

Also, the region’s hospitalizations have increased by 40% in four days.

"We're heading in the wrong direction," said Gov. John Bel Edwards at his Wednesday press conference while pointing out that the state of Louisiana is now number 7 in cases per capita across the country.

 

In New Orleans, a task force of local health and safety officials will help the city crack down on large gatherings and businesses that don’t comply with social distancing orders as Louisiana deals with a surge of new COVID-19 cases. Mayor LaToya Cantrell announced the task force Wednesday during a news conference.

Cantrell and the city's health director say there are no indications of new clusters of the disease arising from recent protests against racial injustice.

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Gov. Edwards stressed that the biggest increase is in the 18-29 age group and stressed that the coronavirus affects people of all ages. Dr. Stefanski says the age groups that are the most problematic are the younger demographics.

“It’s true for our state and really much of the country that we see the largest increase among young adults, so 18- to 29-year-olds, followed by less than 18-year-olds, and then 30 to 39,” said Stefanski.

Stefanski hopes that young adults will begin to heed the advice of health officials by avoiding crowds and limiting activities, as it will help protect those most at risk for poor outcomes.

“It’s a challenge but we really want young people to realize that the actions that they take can impact other individuals and certainly when they are around there parents or grandparents who have high risk conditions, maintain a distance,” said Stefanski.

"We are going to test as many people as we can," said the Governor, while mentioning 85% of all nursing homes have been tested.

"We may or may not stay in Phase 2 for the full 28 days," said Governor John Bel Edwards. "We will reevaluate the data. It may be 21 days."

(Story written by Brandon Comeaux/KPEL News, Kevin Barnhart/Louisiana Radio Network, and Kevin McGill/AP)