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Halloween caused 'significant' COVID spread in St. Tammany, health system says

Louisiana health leaders say the state is reaching a “make or break” week to change the course of the virus

ST. TAMMANY PARISH, La. — The St. Tammany Health System says Halloween is believed to have sparked “a significant increase” in community spread of the coronavirus. 

The hospital system is now warning that Thanksgiving could be another potential wave of exposure. That prediction comes as Louisiana health leaders say the state is reaching a “make or break” week to change the course of the virus which is now heading in the wrong direction.

“All residents are reminded as we head into winter, people spend more time indoors, increasing the risk of exposure to colds, flu and viruses, including COVID-19,” the health system warned on Monday.

According to data from the Louisiana Department of Health, St. Tammany Parish saw a 32 percent increase in the number of COVID-19 tests returning positive between Oct. 22 and Nov. 4. As of Monday, there are 17 patients in COVID care at the St. Tammany Health System, an increase from nine a week ago.

Parish President Mike Cooper urged residents to wear masks, social distance and avoid large gatherings during Thanksgiving.

“One of the trends that we’ve seen over the past month in more and more cases originating from informal gatherings, people’s dinner parties, people’s backyards, families hanging out, families getting together,” Louisiana Assistant State Health Officer Dr. Joe Kanter said Monday. “For a family, really think about whether the joy of bringing people together, temporary joy is worth the permanent consequences and potentially permanent consequences.” 

Kanter admits If we’re not careful, this Thanksgiving, Christmas is not going to look anything like what we want it to. 

More than 8,900 people in St. Tammany Parish have been diagnosed with the virus since the outbreak was first detected in March. Another 284 people have died.

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