The COVID-19 outbreak has been amazing to cover, because as fast as you can get the information out there, it’s already changing — at lightning pace.
So that makes it almost impossible for reporters around the state and country to keep up, which leaves tons and tons of questions from folks who are concerned about what’s going on.
I’ve gotten just tons and tons of questions in the past 24-48 hours. I’m sorry I couldn’t do this until now.
News changes fast. I’m doing the best I can to get you guys answers on the fly.
Q: Lafourche cases jumped by 10 today. Should we be alarmed?
A: Alarmed is not a word I would use, no. We have 10 more cases, yes. But do we truly have 10 more sick people today than we did yesterday? No. These are people who have all been sick for the past week — some even longer than that. One of the new positives confirmed to us locally that they were waiting for their results for 2 weeks. This was always going to happen. Our numbers were always going to go up — especially as the backlog in state testing gets unclogged.
Q: Where are our patients from?
A: Officially, I don’t know. I am not ever given access to this data. But I do this literally 16-18 hours out of every day and I talk to dozens of people daily. The word on the street is that the majority of the diagnosed cases are in the central-to-northern portion of the parish. But I’ve also heard that that area is simply testing for the virus more, too, so maybe that’s why. I do know we have a good handful of south Lafourche cases, too.
Q: We now have more global cases than China. How will this ever slow down?
A: OK, two things to consider here. One, the Chinese government’s numbers of total cases in their country are foggy at best. They’ve been caught in many lies and half-truths since this all started, so don’t necessarily believe everything that is out there from their government. Two — again — this was always going to be our end game. We tested 101,000 people in the United States today alone. We have now tested more than 500,000 people total. Just 10 days ago, we were doing 10,000 tests in the United States per day. Now, we’re doing 100,000. Numbers are always going to go up the larger the sample size is. Dr. Birx spoke today at the President’s press conference and she said that many of the rumors we see blasted daily on the Internet are simply not true. Dr. Birx said even in New York, there are still ventilators and hospital beds available. One thing we have to remember is that total cases DOES NOT mean active cases. Some people do recover and as 3-4 come in, 3-4 more may come out. No one ever talks about that, but that’s a reality. As to the question of when things slow down, I think the rest of the spring, this is our No. 1 headline. I don't think we come up for any real, significant air until the summer.
Q: Why do we not know how many patients recovered?
A: Good stinking question. I think the Louisiana Department of Health has done a good job updating us on cases, the parish of origin for each case and they’ve given us lots of data on hospitalizations and ventilators being used and tons and tons of other useful nuggets. But that we don’t know how many patients recovered is just not right. In Lafourche, many sources have told me that several of our patients are recovered and are 100 percent. Wouldn’t we all be better off knowing that? Around the country, thousands of people are in the same boat. That’s the one part of this process that I wish we could do differently.
Q: Will they stop selling alcohol in Louisiana?
A: Ah, yes, the rumor of the day. I’ve been asked this at least 2 dozen times. There is no planned ban on alcohol purchases in Louisiana — at least not to my knowledge or the knowledge of any other newspaper in the state.
Q: How can we keep our produce germ-free? It sits on shelves all day
A: Wash it, wash it, wash it. I would wash my produce (that can be washed) as best I can. And to be honest, I would avoid eating raw produce for now - just to be safe. Cooking something would kill any virus particles in an instant. I chuckled yesterday at comments people made about people cutting meat for a fundraiser without gloves on. The meat was about to be in a pot that was boiling. Viruses cannot sustain that. That, and the workers had washed their hands before and after touching the meat, but to each his/her own.
Q: When will we know if school is canceled or postponed further?
A: From a statewide perspective, I’d expect that the first week of April would be a good time – at the latest. But that's just me guessing. From a Lafourche perspective, we still have time. Lafourche schools don’t go back until April 20. Ya’ll, that’s almost a full month from now. So much can and will change in that time. We just don’t know yet. Relax and trust that when it’s out there, I’ll tell you and your school board will tell you.
Q: You’ve been so good at giving us positives. Give us some more.
A: I love that I get asked in every Q&A to give positive information. What’s crazy is that my “positive” information is mostly just facts — facts that other companies refuse to share because it doesn’t meet the fear factor tale they’re trying to present. I will give you 5 nuggets today. One, we have 5,000 more total cases than Italy as a country, but 7,000 fewer deaths. A total of 4 out of every 1 million Americans have died of COVID-19 right now. I’m not saying that’s OK, but I am saying that if you fill up Tiger Stadium 10 times, just 4 people have died in that bunch. The odds are massively in all of our favors. Two, Louisiana cases have actually somewhat leveled off — even while tests have risen dramatically. Last week, total cases were rising 35-45 percent every day and that’s with just hundreds of tests being processed. Now, they’re rising 25-30 percent per day and that’s with thousands of tests more per day than last week. That’s great for us. Three, 55 percent of all cases are in four counties in New York. The vast majority of counties and parishes are doing OK. Four, our area hospitals tell me they are having long days, but that they’re holding up OK. Five, this virus has brought out the good in so many people. How refreshing is it to scroll social media and see people getting along, as opposed to fighting and bickering? We’re loving more. That is one great thing that’s come of all this.
Q: I was sick in late-January with all of the COVID-19 symptoms. Is it possible I had it?
A: Possible and probably likely. I had the same experience in mid-February. I had a dry cough, a wheeze and 2-3 days worth of consistent fever. I tested negative for everything and was told I had a viral condition. This was the weekend before Mardi Gras. Since then, I’ve spoken privately with local doctors who believe the virus has been here since the start of the new year. I posted a thread on my Facebook page 2 weeks ago and literally dozens of my friends reported being sick with similar symptoms the same time I was.
Q: Is it OK for us to go fishing?
A: That is not outlawed. Just practice distancing and keep your crowd small.
Q: I heard somewhere that the Pope has said it’s OK for us to eat meat on Friday’s in Lent now. Is this true?
A: Yes, Bishop Fabre has said that the sacrifice of avoiding meat on Friday’s is absolved of all Catholics for the final Fridays of Lent except Good Friday when he says Catholics are still supposed to fast as best they can.
Q: I get routine bloodwork every 6 months. My condition isn’t serious. Should I still go?
A: I would call your doctor. I will never tell someone what they should or shouldn’t do with bloodwork or medical-related stuff. Me, myself, I get tested for my vitamin D and cholesterol levels every 3 months and my bloodwork is due on April 1. I have already confirmed with my doctors that I will not be making my appointment and he agreed that it was OK, because it was not a medical emergency. But every situation is 100 percent different. Please call your physician.
Q: You asked us in a poll question about a vaccine. Would YOU take a COVID-19 shot?
A: I probably would. I take the flu shot, too. Look, vaccines get a bad rep. Some of the comments on the poll were humorous — people talking about their refusal to let the government give them a shot and what have you. Folks, the government doesn’t make these shots. That’s crazy talk. Also, others pointed out the ineffectiveness of the flu shot in some years. That’s a fair point. But also please know that the vaccine lasts 5 years for the strain that you’re injected. So if it’s ineffective in year 1, but the same strain returns in year 2, you’re protected. If you get the shot every year, you become increasingly likely to have multiple layers of protection. With a COVID-19 vaccine, I would take it because of others — not myself. I don’t fear this virus. I’m 32 and am in good health. But if taking it prevented me from giving it to others who may not be as lucky, sure, sign me up.