JENNINGS — Local officials announced the first case of coronavirus in Jeff Davis Parish on Tuesday and called for residents to follow the state’s stay-at-home order and practice social distancing to slow the spread.
The patient is not hospitalized nor in any nursing care facility, according to Dr. Lacey Cavanaugh, Region 5 Medical Director for the Department of Public Health. No other information was disclosed on the patient during a news conference at Jennings American Legion Hospital.
“The message is to stay home and observe all the social distancing and hygiene recommendations,” Hospital CEO Dana Williams said. “That is the best way that we can defeat this and ensure that we have the resources available in our health care system to care for you.”
People can also help slow the spread by staying home whether they are sick or not, she said.
“Even if you are not sick and you come in contact with the virus, it can take up to 14 days from the time that you are exposed to the time that you develop symptoms and during that time frame there is the potential that you could unknowingly infect other people,” she said. “At this point we have to assume that many people across Louisiana have this virus, not just those who tested positive.”
Common symptoms of the coronavirus include fever, coughing and lower respiratory problems. Those with underlying chronic medical conditions are more at risk, she said.
She recommends people stay six feet apart, not shake hands and cover their coughs.
Those developing symptoms should contact their physician first for instructions.
Sheriff Ivy Woods said many residents are not taking the warning to stay home seriously. “It’s very simple, stay home,” he said. “Don’t ride around. If you don’t have purpose, don’t be out there. If you are stopped and asked, you better have a purpose of why you are out there.”
He said officials are considering extending the parish’s 11 p.m.-5 a.m. curfew.
Jennings Mayor Henry Guinn said social distancing is hard for most to comply with, but stressed its importance.
“The community of Jennings is very close knit,” Guinn said. “We don’t do social distancing very well because it is not in our culture to stay at home and not do anything, but please pay attention to what the professionals are saying.”
Guinn said the city is having problems with its sewage system as residents are throwing non-disposable wipes and other items in the toilet. He asked residents to only put disposable toilet paper into the system to alleviate further problems.