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Virus death toll, case count rise

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Lincoln Parish has recorded yet another death in the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis, bringing the number of local people who have died from the respiratory ailment to 20.

The latest death comes as cases of COVID-19 continue to climb in the parish. As of noon Monday, the Louisiana Department of Health reported 558 confirmed cases. That’s up 53 cases from Sunday. The local tally jumped by 116 cases over a week.

LDH did not update its numbers on Saturday, saying it wanted to give testing labs time to catch up.

Gov. John Bel Edwards is expected to announce this week whether Louisiana will remain in Phase Two of reopening or if changes are coming. Edwards’ current order holding the state in Phase Two expires Friday, as does the current statewide mask mandate.

In an attempt to stop the surge of COVID-19 cases, Edwards froze reopening at Phase Two on June 25 and implemented the mask mandate on July 13. But cases have continued to increase, as have hospitalizations.

At a press conference late last week, Edwards said there was no “real reason” to expect the virus numbers to be any better over the next several weeks, partially because of the impact of large group gatherings over the July 4 holiday.

During the same press conference, state Assistant Health Secretary Dr. Alex Billioux said cases are counted only once, regardless of the number of COVID-19 tests an individual may get.

“You’re listed as a case once, no matter how many tests you have,” Billioux said in an answer to a reporter’s question about case accounting.

Each case reportedly is assigned a number that stays with the case throughout.

However, that’s not what Lincoln Parish Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness Kip Franklin has seen in local COVID-19 statistics sent to his office from the state.

He said one person is on the local list who was tested twice and shows two case numbers, while another person who was tested six times has six case numbers.

For months, Franklin and other parish homeland security directors have said the information they receive often does not match what’s listed on the LDH website.