COVID-19

What I’m about to tell you guys about COVID-19 is unpopular, but it has to be said.

But please — before you storm onto Facebook and accuse me of being a “typical news reporter” that’s “spreading fear” or “overhyping a situation,” please, just hear me out.

I’m not one of them — the typical, self-proclaimed know-it-all journalist.

I’m one of you. I live here just like you do.This is a situation that’s as real to me as it is to you — if not even more real, because I’ve lost a family member to this and several others of my family members were infected, but have thankfully recovered.

Over the past three months, no one has crunched the numbers more in this area that I have.

My laptop has turned into a hub for numbers, statistics, charts, graphs and a whole world of things I never knew existed before March.

I am not a pandemic expert, and I’m still not one today. But I’ve busted my butt to study the data in the past several months because our area needed someone to look out for the bayou community. My mindset was — if I didn’t do it the right way, no one else in our local media would, because our area is woefully underreported (unless there’s a negative story to tell), and our people needed accurate data and fact-based reporting.

So today, after studying some recent trends, and crunching some different numbers, I want to caution you all, our awesome readers, that the COVID-19 pandemic is NOT over, and that coronavirus is continuing to spread in our community — at numbers that are seemingly beginning to slowly increase.

That is not mentioned to incite panic or fear.

Believe me — we’re still far ahead of where we were months ago. But my point in writing today is to remind you all that the steps we take TODAY will ensure that we go forward in the future and not backwards toward another shutdown like we had in March.

As stated above, we’ve made tremendous progress — even as we’ve re-opened.

Our hospitalizations, as a whole, are down. Our ventilator use, as a whole, is down. And both numbers are down tremendously from their peaks in April.

But after many, many weeks of seeing numbers go down, down, down, they’ve started in recent weeks to go up, up, up, a little — even if slightly, so I just want to remind you guys that this fight is not over and we have to remain cautious.

Follow CDC Guidelines about hand washing and some of the other things that we’ve been doing for the past three months. Truthfully, those guidelines are for “all of the time” use, not just during pandemics. We should be washing our hands and taking care of our bodies ALL of the time.

Practice social distancing. I know that’s become such a poisoned word, but 90 percent of that is because people on social media don’t understand what the word means.

By social distancing, I don’t mean to lock yourself in your room and lay under your bed, no. That is what you do when a tornado is coming. By social distancing, I mean, if gathering with people, just keep healthy distance.

And if keeping that safe distance isn’t possible in a certain setting, then maybe it’s best to avoid it for a couple of weeks.

If you own a mask and feel comfortable wearing it, please do.

If that’s not your thing, I’d highly urge you to limit your contact with others, not for your own safety, but for the safety of those you contact.

I know, I know. You have your own research that shows that it’s unhealthy. I know, you have the Surgeon General and Dr. Fauci on video saying it’s not needed, nor necessary. But look at the time stamp on those videos. They were both many months ago. They’ve both backtracked and have said that masks protect people from contracting COVID-19.

And for your conspiracy theorists in the back, guess what? Our local medical professionals say the same thing, too, and I highly doubt that our friends at Our Lady of the Sea or Thibodaux Regional are partaking in a nationwide conspiracy.

It sucks. No one likes to do it. I fully understand.

But people who have gone to school far longer than me say it’s wise, so I believe them.

OK, I’m done telling you guys what to do now.

Let’s just be cautious and careful.

Let’s love ourselves, but also our neighbors, too.

In the past several months, we’ve taken 20 steps forward, and in the past few days, we’ve probably, truthfully, taken 2-3 steps back.

We’re still far ahead, but we have to make sure that those past few days were merely a hiccup and not a sign of things to come.

And to those who think I’m overreacting, I leave you with this.

In early March, I was once like you. I thought COVID-19 wouldn’t be anything big. I remember on a Monday, I took some time and found all of the stats — for flu, for swine flu, for everything.

And literally four days later, the world was closed down.

With a virus, small losses can become big ones in no time.

If we live like we lived in March, what happened in March will happen again.

That's just a fact. If you make a gumbo with rotted ingredients, then the gumbo won't turn out so good - no matter how many different ways you make it.

The same is in play here. If we go back to doing EXACTLY what we did in March, we will get the EXACT SAME results.

So let’s learn from those mistakes, push forward and get rid of this thing once and for all.

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