Drive-thru coronavirus testing to start in Ascension Parish
GONZALES – The first reported coronavirus patient in the greater Baton Rouge area is an Ascension Parish resident, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced on Monday.
Now, parish leaders say increased COVID-19 testing will start there hopefully by the end of the week.
"It is not time to panic. This is a time to stay calm, plan and exercise good habits to avoid coming in contact or spreading COVID-19,” Ascension Parish President Clint Cointment said.
Cointment opened a press conference on Monday by confirming the parish’s first reported coronavirus case, just a week after the state's first case was reported.
Last Friday, Cointment signed a parish-wide emergency declaration, which opened the parish’s emergency operation center.
Health officials in the parish are preparing to open a drive-through coronavirus testing site at St. Elizabeth Hospital for people referred by a doctor. They hope to have that testing site open within the next few days.
"Every day we seem to be getting more resources to test. But part of the reason we have so few cases determined right now is we've only had about 400 people tested and the test confirmations that have been returned,” Ascension Parish coroner Dr. John Fraiche said.
Self-isolation and social distancing were among the list of recommendations being pushed by doctors, including Fraiche, in order to protect the elderly and those with preexisting health conditions in the parish.
Besides court in Ascension Parish, most other parish-government operations are still up and running with certain restrictions. Parish-employees are asked to monitor for updates as the situation evolves.
Chemical plants that line the Mississippi River in Ascension are also monitoring the situation but there have been no operational impacts at this time.
Meanwhile, schools in the parish plan to start free meal pickups for students on Wednesday. Meal pickups will take place on weekdays from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Donaldsonville high school, Dutchtown high school, East Ascension high school and St. Amant high school.
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