The Louisiana Department of Health tracking of positive COVID-19 test results in schools shows both the Acadiana and Orleans regions topping the list with nearly 100 cases each as of Wednesday's update.
As of Wednesday, the state has 1,103 schools enrolled in its reporting program and has had 523 cases reported, with 361, or 69 percent, among students and 162, or 31 percent, of faculty or staff members testing positive. Of those, 97 were in Region 4, which covers the Acadiana parishes. Another 96 were in Region 2, which encompasses the Orleans and Jefferson parish area.
In those two parishes, the teacher/student ratio is in line with the statewide breakdown of cases. Region 4 has 71 students, or 73.2 percent, of its cases among students and 26.8 percent among faculty. Region 2 has 72, 0r 75 percent, of its cases in the student population and 24, or 25 percent, of its cases amongst faculty and staff.
Region 5, which was hard-hit after Hurricane Laura struck last month, has 27 schools enrolled in the testing program, but none are currently submitting data.
Friday’s report showed the state with 698 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, 163,222 identified infections so far, an increase of 0.36 percent from Thursday’s total of 163,928.
The state added 18,531 new test results Monday, making the rough positivity rate for those reported infections 3.77 percent.
The state’s seven-day average of tests given as of Sept. 18, the last date reported, was 27.56 tests per 10,000 residents. The positivity rate among those tests was 5.21 percent.
In Region 4, the Sept. 18 testing rate was slightly below the state average, at 27.39 tests per 10,000 residents. The seven-day average percent positive of those tests as of Sept. 18 was below the state average, at 4.7 percent. The last time Region 4’s seven-day average was that low was on March 18, when it was at 4.1 percent.
Iberia Parish is anticipating the reopening of its bars even as some of its neighbors have already achieved the positive infection benchmark needed to let their club owners reopen their doors. Both Lafayette and St. Mary parishes have opted to allow bars to reopen under Gov. John Bel Edwards’ Phase 3 restrictions. Those restrictions require bars offer tableside service only, with standing and bar service prohibited, and that the businesses stop all alcohol sales and service by 11 p.m. Indoor capacity is also limited to 25 percent of a business’ occupancy rate or 50 people, whichever is less.
Outdoor service is also limited to 50 people for tableside service only. Tables indoors and out have to be spaced in accordance with State Fire Marshal social distancing guidelines, with no one under the age of 21 allowed on to the premises.
Another caveat is that live music is prohibited.
At its regular council meeting Wednesday night, Iberia Parish President Larry Richard said that the parish had a positive testing rate of 3.5 percent between Sept. 10 and Sept. 16. Between Sept. 3 and Sept. 9, however, the parish positivity rate was 5.1, slightly above the 5 percent minimum required.
“I feel that we will be able to reopen more businesses when next week’s results are in,” Richard said.
Under Edwards’ Phase 3 declaration, a parish is allowed to lower the restrictions on bars once it has shown two consecutive weeks with a positive test rate of 5 percent or lower.
According to the Thursday update, the number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 rose to 5,241, up from 5,225 on Wednesday. That rise represents an increase of 16, or a 0.31 percent change. The average age of fatal patients is 75, the median age 77. As of Sept. 23, 182 of those deaths were still considered probable COVID-19 fatalities pending final testing. The number of probable deaths attributed to COVID-19 is updated each week on Wednesday.
In Iberia Parish, the number of cases rose by 12 on Friday, to 2,918. The number of deaths remained at 89, with 31,535 tests performed in the parish. The LDH latest two-week incidence map update showed that the parish’s positive test rate dropped 28.46 percent, from 142.37 cases reported per 100,000 population on Aug. 26 to 118.41 per 100,000 between Aug. 27 and Sept. 9.
St. Martin Parish’s number of identified cases rose by three, to 2,094, with 228,040 tests performed. The LDH two-week incidence map shows that, from Aug. 27 to Sept. 9, St. Martin Parish had 117.49 cases reported per 100,000 population, a 37 percent drop from 186.49 per 100,000 in the last update. The number of deaths rose by one, to 61.
In St. Mary Parish, the total cases rose by nine to 1,911, after 18,971 tests. The number of COVID-19 deaths remained at 77. The LDH incidence map shows that from Aug. 26 to Sept. 9 the parish had 124.56 cases reported per 100,000 population, down 29.5 percent from 176.8 on Aug. 25.
In Lafayette Parish, the Friday case count rose by 43, to 8,938, with the number of tests rising to 135,403. The number of deaths rose by two, to 130. The LDH incidence map shows that the parish had 137.57 cases reported per 100,000 population between Aug. 27 and Sept. 9, down 16.8 percent from 163.93 on Aug. 26.
The number of cases in Jefferson Parish rose by 27 to 17,459 on Friday, compared to an increase of 10, to 12,524, in Orleans Parish. The latest data shows Orleans administered more tests, with 207,023 tests in Jefferson compared to 229,484 in Orleans.
Despite lower case numbers, the more urban Orleans Parish has seen 19 more deaths than its suburban neighbor. Orleans Parish deaths remained at 587. In Jefferson Parish, the total number of deaths rose by one, to 568. The LDH incidence map shows that from Aug. 13 to Aug. 26, Jefferson Parish had 141.92 cases reported per 100,000 population, down from 162.88 on Aug. 26. In Orleans, that number was 173.65 per 100,000, up from 125.06.
The LDH reporting of data on hospitalizations due to the disease is still running 24 hours behind. On Friday, the state reported 570 hospitalizations as of Thursday, a decrease of five from 575 on Wednesday. The number of patients on ventilators dropped by six, to 86 Thursday. That is down from 92 on Wednesday.
The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Region 4, which covers Acadiana, dropped by one, to 54 on Thursday. The number of patients on ventilators Wednesday rose by one, to seven.
The overall intensive care bed occupancy rate in Region 4 dropped from 91.4 percent Wednesday to 80.9 percent Thursday, with 131 beds occupied and 31 ICU beds still available. The total number of ICU beds increased by 11, to 162. That is still down from the count of active ICU beds before Hurricane Laura, which hovered above 180.
Thursday's data also showed that hospital bed occupancy was up in Region 4, with 1,202 — 77.3 percent — of the region’s beds occupied and 352 available. The total number of reported beds dropped by four, to 1,554.
When compared by age group, the number of cases in the 18 to 29 demographic was at 36,537 Friday. It is the demographic group with the largest number of identified cases by far. The number of deaths reported in the group remained at 24.
The number of COVID-19 cases identified in the 30 to 39 age group was at 26,540, with 81 deaths, followed closely by the 40 to 49 age group, with 24,280 cases and 172 deaths, and the 50 to 59 age range with 23,751 cases, including 453 fatalities reported.
The 70 and above group case count was at 18,953. The number of deaths in that group rose by 19, to 3,584 — still the largest number of fatalities for any age group by far, more than the number of deaths in all other groups combined and more than two-thirds of the total COVID-19 attributed deaths in the state.
In the 60 to 69 age group, there were 18,586 cases reported and 944 deaths. This age group has the second-highest number of deaths, behind only the 70 and above demographic group.
The under 18 group, the smallest demographic segment, had 15,075 cases total and four reported deaths.
According to Friday’s update, labs in Louisiana have processed at least 2,254,841 COVID-19 tests so far.
The state has also started tracking possible cases, which is the number of individuals with a positive test detecting SARS-CoV-2 antigens. That number was 1,224 as of Sept. 23. According to an LDH spokesman, individuals initially identified as having a positive antigen test who are later identified as having a positive confirmatory test will be removed from the probable case count and added to the cumulative case count.
By gender, the state’s daily report shows women making up the largest part — 56 percent — of the identified COVID-19 cases in the state, with men comprising 44 percent. On the other hand, the COVID-19 deaths are predominantly among men, 52 percent to 48 percent for women.
The number of presumed recovered cases, as of Sept. 21, rose to 149,640. In order to be considered recovered, a living patient must either be out of the hospital and 14 days past a positive test result, or 21 days past a positive test date if their hospitalization status is unknown.
On Sept. 23, the weekly update of fatalities by race showed the percentage of COVID-19 deaths among White victims climbed one-sixth of a percent, while the number of Black fatalities continued to drop.
Initially, LDH reported that 70 percent of all COVID-19 deaths in the state were in the Black community. That number has since dropped to 46.3 percent as of Sept. 23, while White victims now make up 52.23 percent of all fatal cases.
The Native American/Alaskan Native and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander data remained at 0.08 percent each. Other races identified include Asian at 0.67 percent and Other at 0.59 percent.
The number of Black deaths is still disproportionate to the demographics of the state’s population. African Americans make up less than 40 percent of Louisiana’s populace.
That data is only reported once a week, updated on Wednesday.
The top three underlying conditions among COVID-19 deaths in the latest report were hypertension (53.15 percent), diabetes (31.76 percent), and cardiac disease (20.62 percent).
Other factors included neurological disorders (19.8 percent), chronic kidney disease (18.55 percent), obesity (17.06 percent), congestive heart failure (13.61 percent), pulmonary issues (11.53 percent), cancer (6.66 percent), and asthma (3.47 percent).