As no. of virus cases in NOLA lessen, experts are cautiously optimistic
NEW ORLEANS - After reviewing the most recent numbers of novel coronavirus infections in Louisiana's hardest-hit areas, Jefferson and Orleans Parish, some believe that social distancing is helping to curb the spread of the virus.
During the last two days, the number of known new cases in the two parishes rose by 276, less than half of the jump of 587 cases seen in the two days prior to that.
But while a slower growth rate is being seen the New Orleans area, COVID-19 numbers for the rest of Louisiana continue to accelerate.
The virus is now detected in all but five of 64 parishes and the number of new cases detected daily in the rest of the state now easily outpacing the increases in the city and Jefferson Parish.
Experts warned that it’s still too early to be certain of the reason for the reduced numbers in Orleans and Jefferson Parishes.
In other cities hit by coronavirus, and in earlier epidemics, early signs of a slowdown have sometimes shown equally quick reversals.
But they also agree that the demand for testing in the city also seems to have slowed, which is a good sign as it indicates a slower rise in known cases is not simply a reflection of a lack of testing capacity.
The city on Monday opted to close one of its two drive-thru testing sites and consolidate operations at the other one because of reduced demand -- though the single site will still be able to process the same volume of tests, 500 per day.
“Any reduction even in the rate of increase is an achievement because it flattens the curve,” said Marc Lipsitch, an epidemiologist at Harvard University and director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics. “It bears watching.”
Susan Hassig, an epidemiologist at Tulane who studies infectious diseases and public health, called the new numbers “encouraging, but not a reason to have a second line. If the trend continues, it will suggest we have had some success in flattening the curve.”