NEW ORLEANS — As COVID-19 hospitalizations in Louisiana continue to drop, the St. Tammany Health System announced that it was changing two policies for patient testing and visitation requirements.
Starting Monday, pre-procedure testing and pre-admit testing is no longer required for fully vaccinated, asymptomatic patients. To be considered fully vaccinated, a patient must provide one of the following:
- Proof of having received two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, with at least two weeks having passed since receipt of the last dose.
- Proof of having received one dose of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine, with at least two having passed since receipt of the vaccination.
Unvaccinated patients and people with no history of COVID-19, or a previous positive result in the last 90 days will be required to take a COVID-19 test within 72 hours of a procedure. Unvaccinated patients and those with no history of COVID-19 or a previous positive result in the past 90 days ago will require a COVID test on day of admission.
Previous COVID-positive patients being admitted or readmitted with ongoing symptoms that are less than or equal to 20 days from initial positive test result do not require a retest and will be placed in COVID isolation.
Starting Tuesday, the health system is resuming routine visitation for COVID-negative patients, including inpatients, outpatients, and procedural areas.
Visitors will still be required to practice social distancing in common areas including waiting rooms and cafeterias. Visitors will be asked to leave if they exhibit symptoms of respiratory infection, have tested positive for COVID-19 in the previous 10 days, have a pending COVID-19 test for symptoms, are unable or refuse to wear a mask, or do not comply with the current policy.
Hospital visiting hours are from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. After 9 p.m. one support person will be allowed to stay the night in the COVID-negative patient’s room.
Visitors may remove their masks while in the room if the patient agrees. Any member of the treatment team may request that visitors wear masks in their presence.
Patients who are positive for COVID-19 will be allowed two visitors per day, between the hours of 5 a.m. and 9 p.m. Visitors must remain in the patient’s room at all times and wear appropriate PPE. There are special circumstances in which more than two visitors will be allowed, including the following:
- Palliative/Comfort Care (which may include family meetings, palliative medicine consults, or comfort focused treatments) – Spouse/partner, children, parents, and siblings may visit together, with sleep accommodation provided for only one support person overnight.
- End of Life Care – Spouse/Partner, children, parents, siblings, and those closest to the family may visit together and be present 24/7.
The health system stressed that masks will still be required at all medical facilities, in accordance with Louisiana's statewide mask mandates.
Monday was the first time Louisiana reported fewer than 400 COVID-19 patients since July 8 at the start of the Delta variant's surge through the state.
Hospitalizations have declined significantly after reaching record-setting levels in mid-August. Louisiana reported 3,022 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 on Aug. 17 - the peak of the state's fourth wave of the virus.
"Fewer than 400 people with COVID in Louisiana hospitals for the first time in a long time. We're making progress. It feels good," said Christina Stephens, a spokesperson for Gov. John Bel Edwards' office said.
LDH reported 581 new cases and 38 deaths due to the virus since Monday. In total, 14,388 people have died in Louisiana since the pandemic began.