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COVID-19 Monthly update: Surge continues, but vaccines offer hope

January 2021 saw a continued surge of new COVID-19 cases in St. John Parish with

532 new cases reported. However, this was a slight decrease from the 564 cases reported in December 2020. COVID related deaths increased to eight for the month, compared to four in December 2020. It does appear that there has been a leveling off of new cases in the last two weeks with a slight decline in the last seven days of the month.

The rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in late December offers hope and promise that we can contain this virus and drastically reduce the number of cases in the population. Initially the vaccine has targeted critical health care workers and front line emergency responders such as firefighters and police officers. Another group with first priority are nursing home residents and people over the age of 70, both of whom are at risk for severe complications or death from COVID-19 infection.

As the vaccination of these priority groups are completed, then the rest of the population will be offered the vaccine, starting with age 65 and over, and so on with older age groups getting priority and progressing down to the younger age groups over time. The hope is that by mid-summer of 2021 that a majority of the population will have been vaccinated, thus reducing the spread and occurrence of this virus dramatically. This will require a huge effort and cooperation from the general public but will result in fewer public health restrictions and a return to a more “normal” way of life.