Coronavirus cases are on the rise in southern Lafourche Parish – an area where vaccination rates are far trailing both national and statewide averages.

Lady of the Sea General Hospital CEO Karen Collins said that positive COVID cases in the hospital's medical clinics are rising at rates that are becoming a cause for concern. Lafourche Parish's cases per capita and parish positivity have both risen in recent weeks, as well.

"We are concerned with the increasing number of COVID-19 positive cases in our area," said Collins, BSN, MHA, CEO of Lady of the Sea General Hospital and Clinics.

Collins said that in May, testing at Lady of the Sea Hospital and Clinics revealed fewer than 20 positive cases of COVID-19.

"But the month of June had almost 4 times that amount," Collins said.

So far in July, cases are continuing to rise. The first week of July saw rises consistent with those of levels we were seeing in early 2021.

"That increasing trend has continuing through the first week of July with the highest number of positive cases documented by our facility in a week since February 2021," Collins said.

Medical experts around the state say that vaccination rates are going to determine the rate of spread in specific areas. Lafourche Parish lags behind averages in those numbers.

A little more than 30 percent of Lafourche Parish residents have completed the 2-shot vaccine series and a slightly higher percentage have received one of the two shots.

In South Lafourche, vaccination rates hover slightly below those of parish averages with most Census tracts having vaccination rates in the upper 20% range.

Many of the areas of the state that have lower vaccination rates are those seeing the greatest rises in their cases and positivity.

Governor John Bel Edwards said at a recent press conference that "nearly 100 percent" of the state's COVID deaths were in unvaccinated patients and that the "overwhelming majority" of COVID hospitalizations are in unvaccinated patients. The vaccine is not 100% in preventing someone from contracting the virus, but it is more than 90% effective. And in those who are vaccinated who do contract COVID, their outcomes are statistically far more favorable with many having a minor case.

In Region 3, our virus hospitalizations have nearly tripled since the start of July from 11 on July 1 to 31 on July 8.

Collins said she urges locals to consider the vaccine. Vaccinations are available every day at all of the hospital's clinics 7 days a week.

They are also available at night from 5-9 p.m. on Monday-Friday and from 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. over the Weekends at the Cut Off Clinic.

"The number of vaccinations in our area remains low compared to our region and other areas in Louisiana," Collins said. "We encourage community members to consider the COVID-19 vaccination, which are available daily in our clinics. Please discuss any questions or concerns about COVID and vaccinations with your healthcare provider."

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