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East Baton Rouge officials warn residents to heed guidelines amid latest COVID surge

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BATON ROUGE - Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome was joined by health care leaders Thursday, to give an update on the battle against COVID-19 in East Baton Rouge Parish.

"If you care about people having jobs and employment so they can pay their bills and maintain their dignity, then I need you to comply," she said.

Mayor Broome is making a plea for better compliance instead of imposing tighter restrictions. However, she also warns that nothing is off the table.

"We will remain in our current phase. The bottom line, however, is if we don't change course soon in the next few weeks then we may not have any other choice," she said.

Top doctors in the capital area are also urging folks to stay away from large gatherings, wear their masks, and social distance. The appeal comes on the heels of the holiday season, which is said to have contributed to a swift spike in cases.

"I want to urge you that while the hospitals and pharmacies vaccinate each group, be patient. Don't let your guard down. We are still wearing masks and we are still social distancing and we are still trying to avoid group gatherings," Dr. Louis Minsky with Baton Rouge General said.

At Our Lady of The Lake, Doctor Catherine O'neal says hospital bed availability is diminishing rapidly. Hospital staff across the region is also stretched thin.

"That capacity is stretched even more because our health care workers are becoming sick because of community spread," Dr. O'Neal said.

From the hospitals to the economy, local business leaders are also asking for the public's help with compliance as people struggle to find jobs.

"In the last two weeks, we saw that claims for unemployment in the Baton Rouge area spiked up by another 4,000," Adam Knapp with the Baton Rouge Area Chamber said.

The COVID vaccine poses a light at the end of the tunnel. However, health officials say that we still have a long way to go.


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