Dr. Billioux: More Cases Doesn’t Mean “Things Are Getting Out of Hand”
The State of Louisiana has been fighting through the COVID-19 pandemic for months. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the virus was raging through the state well before the first official confirmed case was found on March 9th.
Recently it was announced that the state will be progressing into "Phase Two" of economic reopening, after many businesses were closed in late March. During the "Phase One" of reopening, restaurants and retail businesses that were previously closed, were able to open at 25% capacity. Now in "Phase Two", many will be opening to 50% capacity.
These reopening steps are all allowed because of the decreases that the state has experienced in COVID related illnesses.
After weeks of work to "flatten the curve" of new cases, the state has seen incredible decreases in hospitalizations and ventilator use since mid-April. Over the last 7 days alone, the number of COVID patients in hospitals has dropped by nearly 200. Ventilator use across the state has dropped below 100 patients over the last 7 days as well.
But while all of those hospitalization numbers have decreased, cases have been building.
The state of Louisiana has regularly reported 300 to 400 new positive COVID-19 cases every day. The state's grand total of confirmed cases has now topped 40,000. Even with thousands of new cases each week, the state has still had a steady decline in hospitalizations and ventilator use.
Today we asked Dr. Alex Billioux, the Assistant Secretary of the Louisiana Office of Public Health, about what that means for the state moving forward. If the state see massive increase in positive tests, but the hospital numbers stay low, will the state be able to continue to reopen? Dr. Billioux spoke about that:
"Part of that is driven by the fact that we doubled the amount of testing statewide from where we were in April. We've exceeded, essentially doubled, what the White House has given us as a goal for testing. And so as you test more, you're going to find more cases. So just in isolation, seeing more cases not enough for us to feel that things are getting out of hand. As you said, you really want to see what's going on with hospitalization, what's the severity of the illness, and also what's the rate of rise in those cases."
So watching case increases daily doesn't exactly mean that things are getting worse in the state, or that the state will not be able to continue to reopen. The big worry is what is happening in the hospitals. As long as the Hospitalizations remain under control, the state will be moving forward.
You can hear the entire interview with Dr. Billioux, including topics like Phase 2, Remdesivir, antibody testing, and more, right here...