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Rural communities desperate for protective gear amid coronavirus outbreak

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EAST FELICIANA PARISH - While donations of face masks and protective equipment are pouring into large medical facilities in our area, that is not the case in rural communities. Now, a local coroner is pleading for help.

Dr. Ewell Bickham was elected coroner of East Feliciana Parish just after the coronavirus outbreak began. He fears if help does not arrive soon, medical workers may stop showing up for work due to a lack of protective gear.

"It's going to be a nightmare. We need protection," Dr. Bickham said.

All five of the long term care facilities in the area have had both patients and staff test positive for COVID-19. There is not enough personal protection equipment to go around.

"They are wearing masks, the N95 masks for several days in a row. They just don't have enough," Dr. Bickham said.

Face mask donations are not as popular in this parish as they are in East Baton Rouge. The coroner said he has been desperately calling out for help.

"I've been reaching out to try to let them know the plight of our parish here in rural America and I have gotten no response," he said.

Other essential workers in the rural community are desperate for PPE in addition to health care workers. 

The director of homeland security dropped off a box of PPE at the local fire station, however, the parish is not certain when more supplies will follow, if any at all.

Donations are welcome and appreciated. You can call the coroner's office at (225) 244-3003.

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