Iberia Parish President Larry Richard addressed the first positive case of coronavirus in the parish with a press conference Thursday evening at the Iberia Parish Courthouse.
Richard said the administration plans to follow the directions of the Center for Disease Control, Department of Health and Hospitals and Gov. John Bel Edwards.
He also said he has been in constant contact with Dr. Tina Stefanski, Region IV director of DHH, who was present at the press conference.
The announcement came less than 24 hours after Lafayette Mayor-President Josh Guillory held a similar press conference, announcing two cases had been identified there. By Thursday evening, that number had climbed to four.
The virus expanded its footprint to nine additional parishes Thursday, bringing to 26 the number of parishes reporting at least one resident who has tested positive for the virus.
Stefanski said that although the DHH epidemiology staff has been conducting an investigation on the person who tested positive for the virus, the department does not share that information with the public because of privacy laws. As in the Lafayette press conference the night before, no personal details about the patient were revealed besides the fact that they are an Iberia Parish resident.
Stefanski said Iberia Parish has been “incredibly proactive” in light of the coronavirus outbreak, with parish officials being the first to call her for a healthcare perspective a few weeks ago.
“It’s something we’ve been saying the last couple of days and unfortunately something we expected,” Stefanski said. “We have a few hundred tests in Acadiana that have been sent to commercial labs. As those test results start to come in you’re going to see the number continue to grow in Acadiana.”
The number of identified cases in Louisiana grew by 40 percent in the 24 hours prior to Richard’s press conference, jumping from 280 to 392. Stefanski emphasized that more cases are expected over the course of the next few weeks, and those positive cases are a result of more tests being done in the area.
“The tests take five to six days to come back, so we’ll continue to see cases in Acadiana,” Stefanski said. “We don’t want people to be alarmed but we want to take actions to prevent further spread.”
Richard added that he had contacted all the mayors in the parish when he had learned of the positive case, as well as officials in surrounding parishes, to give them an update on the situation.
“This is not something that’s going to be unique to Iberia Parish and we need to make sure whatever we’re doing, we do it collectively,” Richard said.