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Mayor Hospitalized

Walker being treated for COVID-caused pneumonia
Tuesday, July 27, 2021
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Ruston Mayor Ronny Walker remains hospitalized today at Northern Louisiana Medical Center while being treated for pneumonia as a result of a breakthrough case of COVID-19.

Walker said Monday he’s feeling better and hopes to be released in the next few days. After that, he’s expected to continue his recovery at home for several weeks.

“I went from being a fairly healthy 69-year old a week ago Saturday to five days later literally needing assistance to get down the hallway,” Walker said.

Walker is still being treated with a regimen of IV antibiotics. At no time has Walker been on a ventilator.

Walker and his wife were both diagnosed with breakthrough cases last week. A breakthrough case is one that occurs in someone who is fully vaccinated. The Walkers each received the two-shot Pfizer vaccine earlier this year.

The mayor’s diagnosis was confirmed July 19. He said he doesn’t know where he contracted the virus or if it’s the more contagious Delta variant.

Walker had hoped to be back at City Hall this week. That changed Saturday when the couple went the hospital on the advice of their doctor for precautionary X-rays.

Tests determined Walker had pneumonia in his right lung.

Though the couple said COVID has made them feel worse than any illness they’ve experienced, they said they’re glad they were vaccinated. Had they not been, both said they feared the outcomes might have been worse.

“If we had not had the vaccine, I’m not sure what would have happened,” Walker said. “I sure as heck would not have wanted to go through this without the vaccine.”

State health authorities say while breakthrough cases are becoming more common among vaccinated individuals, they usually do not get as sick as people who are unvaccinated.

Walker said he’s “still in shock” at how COVID has made him feel and how quickly it happened.

“This stuff kicks your butt,” he said.

But “God’s good and we’re going to make it through it,” the mayor said.

Walker said he and his wife appreciate the prayers and good wishes they’ve received.

He said they want to use their COVID experience to encourage people to get vaccinated.

“The vaccination is really important if everybody will get it,” Walker said.

He said he hasn’t formulated the details yet, but he hopes the city can launch a public service campaign encouraging vaccinations.

The Louisiana Department of Health lists Lincoln Parish as a high-risk parish. The positivity rate as of July 14 was 4.2%, slightly down from the previous reporting period. Newly confirmed COVID cases have been climbing — albeit slight lyon some days — since mid-June, according to LDH.

For at least three days last week, the case count jumped in consecutive double-digits.

About 30.1% of Lincoln Parish residents are fully vaccinated, according to state tallies and the Centers for Disease Control. The numbers are reported by parish only and not cities.

Aldermen meetings

Ruston’s Board of Aldermen will hold their regular August meeting and their annual budget adoption meeting simultaneously next month to accommodate Mayor Ronny Walker’s recovery from COVID-19.

The meeting will be at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 19 at City Hall. The board was already scheduled to meeting that evening to act on budget for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1. The board normally would have met in regular session Aug. 2, then had the budget meeting two weeks later.

But because Walker is not expected to return to City Hall by Aug. 2, the two meetings were combined, Assistant to the Mayor Haley Perot said.

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