ST. TAMMANY PARISH, La. — The St. Tammany Parish Coroner says he is concerned that Christmas gatherings will cause another spike in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
Dr. Charles Preston said the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine to healthcare workers in the state is promising but is not a reason for residents to drop their guard against the deadly virus.
“While we are all heartened by the development of the vaccine, the reality is that it will still be many months before we have reached sufficient immunity to drop our guard,” Dr. Preston said.
Dr. Preston said families should consider reducing the size of gatherings, maintain social distance between members of different households, and practice hand-washing almost to excess.
“This is not a hoax. It is not a drill. The threat remains real and we must all do our part to protect one another,” Dr. Preston said.
St. Tammany Parish passed a grim milestone this week after reporting that more than 300 people have died from the virus since the outbreak began.
Hospitalizations in parishes north of Lake Pontchartrain have surged since late October, sparking fears that the virus could overwhelm hospital capacity. As of Thursday, there were only 21 ICU beds available in the health region including St. Tammany, Washington, Tangipahoa, Livingston, and St. Helena parishes.