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Northshore doctors fear we're at the beginning of the next COVID-19 spike

"Alarmingly, patients presenting to our facilities with COVID are consistently the unvaccinated members of our community," the hospital said.

ST. TAMMANY PARISH, La. — New COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are rising in Louisiana due to the more contagious Delta Variant. 

Nearly 2,400 new cases were reported since Friday along with eight deaths. The number of those in the hospital rose above 400. That's a number we haven't seen since March. 

The entire Northshore is classified as "high risk" for COVID spread. One doctor in Covington believes we are seeing the beginning of another COVID surge.

Six months ago, phones at Braswell Drugs were ringing off the hook. The Covington pharmacy saw a huge demand for COVID-19 vaccines. 

"Lots of people calling, lots of people wanting to make appointments," Braswell Drugs pharmacist Paula Fricker said. "As days and months went through, less and less people were getting it."

That demand has changed. 

"We do maybe 50 a week whereas we were doing probably 50 a day at the beginning," Fricker said. 

Braswell Drugs is right across the street from St. Tammany Parish where positive COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are increasing.

"In the last week it's really increased and it looks like were beginning to see the beginning of another spike," said Dr. Mike Hill, Medical Director of Infection Prevention with St. Tammany Health. 

As of Monday morning, the hospital had 16 patients hospitalized with COVID-19. 

"That’s the highest we had in several weeks," Dr. Hill said. "I think were seeing it because of the large percentage of un-vaccinated people, the mask mandates have gone away, people are getting back together."

Dr. Hill said those with serious cases requiring hospitalizations are un-vaccinated people. 

"When we talk to patients who come in and are sick, most of them tell us they wish they had got the vaccine," he said. 

The Delta variant is responsible for 59 percent of new cases in Louisiana. 

Dr. Hill said some vaccinated people are testing positive too, but their cases are minor. 

"They're asymptomatic or they have very mild symptoms," he said. 

About 40 percent of people in St. Tammany Parish are vaccinated.

"It's too low. We need to have more people vaccinated," Dr. Hill said. 

Fricker is urging the same. 

"It's not worth losing your life," she said. "You have to trust the officials, trust your doctor, trust your pharmacist and realize you have to get the shot because if not, another variant is going to come in our direction."

Most pharmacies and hospitals on the Northshore are administering vaccines. You can call one close to you to make an appointment.

To make an appointment through the Bring Back Louisiana COVID-19 vaccine hotline, call 1-855-453-0774 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday. You can also find locations administering vaccines at vaccines.gov.

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