Local Officials Speak at Regional COVID-19 Testing Site in Raceland

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Gov. Edwards to share updates on Stay-at-Home order today
April 27, 2020
State presumed recovered total rises to 17,303; total cases rises to 27,068
April 27, 2020

This morning, Lafourche, Terrebonne and Assumption  officials held a joint press conference at the new regional drive-through coronavirus testing site at the Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office Shooting Range Facility, 3451 La. Highway 182 in Raceland. 


“The coronavirus has touched most residents, if not all, in our parish and our state. So we all know someone who has tested positive or worst-case, a loved one who has passed away,” said Lafourche Parish President Archie Chaisson. “Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the families of the loved ones that we have lost” 


“We are happy to open a drive-through testing site servicing the Bayou Regions of Lafourche, Terrebonne and Assumption,” he continued. “I’d be remiss if I didn’t start by thanking the soldiers of the Louisiana National Guard for their help.” 


Chaisson also thanked Terrebonne Parish President Gordon Dove, Lafourche Sheriff Craig Webre, Assumption Parish Police Jury President Jeff Naquin, other local officials and the school board for their assistance.


Chaisson said tests will be distributed each day 8 a.m. until noon or until the 125-tests limit is reached each day of the week. Residents can download the MyQuest app to receive their test results; if not, the will be contacted with the results, Chaisson said. 


Today, the site is open to for those 65 years of age and older and first responders. Tomorrow, the site will be open to those 18 years of age and older, “regardless if they are symptomatic or not,” Chaisson said. More details on the testing location can be found here. 


Dove spoke next, thanking all parties involved for their assistance as well. “Our big goal is to get everyone tested and of course, move into testing for antibodies.” 


“…From here, we can only pray that the people of Louisiana…adhere to the six-foot rule of social distancing; clean your hands…and follow the rules,” he continued. “We were looking at opening up parts the parishes and different aspects of business…If our numbers start going back up, we have to go back and start reversing what we’ve done. And we don’t want to reverse anything.” 


The people of Terrebonne have been real resilient and have followed the rules, Dove said, but there are still a few people who don’t. He said masks and gloves are essential. 


Dove called up Earl Eues, Director of the Terrebonne Parish Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness, who said at the present time, Terrebonne Parish has 371 positive cases and 26 deaths. 


Officials are working with the most vulnerable population — the elderly, Eues said, being in constant contact with nursing homes and all of the parish’s assisted living facilities and making sure they have proper masks and personal protective equipment (PPE) in order to prevent the spread. 


“Now we’re going to pay attention to what the governor says today on reopening of our area,” he went on, “and we will have some guidelines coming out sometime this week also regarding the governor’s opening.” 


Webre addressed all in attendance and home viewers after Eues. He said the pandemic has presented many challenges and frustrations — one of the most significant being access to reliable and timely testing. 


“We’ve heard stories and we’ve seen news stories where nurses and doctors and medical professionals are living in campers in their driveway because of fear of infecting their family,” he said, “or they describe how they come home from work and they strip naked right outside the front door, right inside the foyer, and go immediately to the shower and put their clothes into a washing machine.”


He said from a law enforcement perspective, they’ve seen 14 or 15 people in his department out on quarantine because there was no way to validate if they were positive or not. 


The new testing facility is important for a variety of reasons, Webre noted, first being that it’s convenient and minimally intrusive. “Secondly, if a person were to find out that they’ve tested positive, they can immediately access that necessary, potentially lifesaving medical attention and treatment that might make the difference between whether they survive or not,” he continued. 


Third, people can avoid unnecessary quarantining, he said. “Fourth, with a testing center like this and many across the country, we can improve the accuracy and the body of knowledge that we have on the number of positive tests and the rate of mortality,” Webre said. 


Out of the Sheriff’s Office’s 350 employees, three have tested positive for the virus, Webre said, and none had to be hospitalized. 


“So our infection rate mirrors that of what the current information suggests — less than one percent,” he said. “Interestingly, it also mirrors the racial disparity, with a 66 percent African American and 33 percent non-African American infection rate.” 


And finally, if nothing else, the site will give peace of mind, Webre said. 


“As we start to know more about this disease, this condition and we can treat it better with accurate information, we could do a better job of having peace of mind,” he concluded. “And I fully intend — I’m not going to deprive a member of the public or a senior citizen an opportunity to get tested — but as soon as there’s a day when there is 124 people tested and there’s one test that’s not been used, I want to be in that line.” 


Dr. John King, Lafourche Parish coroner who is heading the testing results, spoke after Webre. 


“Today, this disease called COVID, which means Chinese-oriented infection disease, essentially has turned the whole healthcare system in the United States into somewhat of a free for all,” he said. “…This is the worst disease that I have ever seen as far as being able to adapt itself in order to take a human life.” 


According to the World Health Organization (WHO), COVID-19 is the abbreviation of coronavirus disease 2019, ‘CO’ stands for ‘corona,’ ‘VI’ for ‘virus,’ and ‘D’ for disease. Coronaviruses derive their name from the fact that under electron microscopic examination, each virion is surrounded by a “corona,” or halo, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 


“…So I really, emphatically, would want people to come and do this testing on a regular basis,” King said. “Essentially, it will also help us to get back to work sooner and it’ll also help us to get back to work in a more positive way that individuals won’t be scared when they do return to work.”


If a citizen tests positive, they must be able to contact anyone who they’ve been in contact with to stop the spread, King said. 


“This disease has no political ramifications — Democrats, Republicans, anyone else. It’s not anyone’s fault that this disease has spread the way it has,” he said. “This disease is a terrible, terrible disease, and he’s going to go wherever he’s able to by humans not staying apart from each other, and then essentially by not doing this contact tracing that we’re desperately going to need in order to make this disease stop.”