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Parish moves to COVID ‘yellow zone,’ but cases still rising

Friday, September 4, 2020
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Source: White House Coronavirus Task Force document

Ruston and Lincoln Parish have moved from COVID-19 red zones to yellow zones, according to the latest state report from the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

The report, dated Aug. 30, has also moved the entire state from the red to yellow.

Yellow zones are areas that during the previous week reported both new cases between 10 and 100 per 100,000 population, or a test positivity rate of between 5% and 10%, or one of those coupled with a high red zone number.

At the time of the report, Louisiana met both of the yellow zone criteria.

“Louisiana has seen stability in new cases and a decrease in positivity over the last week. Despite the impact of Hurricane Laura, Louisiana was well positioned due to its strong mitigation efforts and will be able to expand testing and ensure testing in shelter areas,” the report said.

Testing that was stopped last week because of the hurricane resumed Monday. But the volume of tests being done statewide has still not caught up with pre-storm levels.

The White House task force report notes Louisiana’s new COV-ID-19 cases per 100,000 in population is still above the national average

Despite the yellow zone status, confirmed cases of COVID-19 continue to climb in Lincoln Parish.

As of noon Thursday, the Louisiana Department of Health reported 937 diagnosed cases in the parish since the pandemic began in March. The total represents an increase of 15 new cases this week.

However, the rate of increase appears to have slowed. But the positivity rate — the percentage of people who test positive for the virus of all the tests done over a specific time period — has gone back up.

LDH shows a 6.5% positivity rate for Aug. 13-19 and an 11.8% positivity rate for Aug. 20-26. LDH still shows Lincoln Parish is in a high COV-ID-19 incidence category.

Gov. John Bel Edwards on Thursday urged Louisianans to observe mitigation measures over the Labor Day weekend — frequent handwashing, wearing masks or face coverings and staying away from crowds.

“Large social gatherings really should not happen,” Edwards said during a press conference.

Louisiana’s last coronavirus surge came after Memorial Day — a holiday that sees many of the same kinds of celebrations as does Labor Day.

“We know a considerable amount of com munity spread (of COV-ID-19) is generated from backyard gatherings,” Edwards said.

Louisiana remains in Phase Two of economic reopening at least until Sept. 11. Phase Two restrictions include the mask mandate and closure of bars.

Those same restrictions, as well as some occupancy limitations for social gatherings, are in the White House Coronavirus Task Force recommendations for yellow zone areas.

COVID-19 has claimed the lives of 40 Lincoln Parish residents thus far.