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Iberia Parish’s seven-day positivity rate ticked upward in Wednesday’s Louisiana Department of Health update, but it is still under the 5 percent required for bars to be allowed to reopen under the Phase 3 restrictions Gov. John Bel Edwards put into effect several weeks ago.

According to LDH, Iberia’s seven-day positivity rate is at 4.1 percent, an increase from 3.3 percent last week but still within the Phase 3 reopening requirements.

On Tuesday, Iberia Parish President Larry Richard said he was prepared to release a proclamation allowing bars to open as soon as the results were available. That proclamation has already been sent, Richard confirmed Wednesday afternoon.

In St. Martin Parish, Parish President Chester Cedars also sent a letter to ATC to opt-in after the parish scored its second 3 percent positivity rating in as many weeks. 

"Phase 3 guidelines on capacity and serving protocol will still be in effect, but our bars are effectively open for business," Cedars said in a post on the St. Martin Parish Government Facebook page.

In Lafayette Parish, where bars were allowed to reopen last week, the percent positivity rate dropped from 4.9 percent on Sept. 16 to 4 percent Wednesday. In Acadia Parish, where bars were also allowed to reopen, the rate dropped from 4 percent on Sept. 16 to 3.5 percent Wednesday.

Because of the lag in reporting time and the incubation time for the coronavirus, any infections resulting from the bar reopenings in those parishes will not be reflected in the LDH reporting until at least Oct. 14, when the Oct. 7 seven-day averages are released.

Overall, Wednesday’s data showed the state with 452 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, 166,033 identified infections so far, an increase of 0.27 percent from Wednesday’s total of 165,624.

The state added 10,646 new test results Wednesday, making the rough positivity rate for those reported infections 4.25 percent.

The state’s seven-day average of tests given as of Sept. 25, the last date reported, was 28.07 tests per 10,000 residents. The positivity rate among those tests was 4.46 percent.

In Region 4, the Sept. 25 testing rate was below the state average, at 25.92 tests per 10,000 residents. The seven-day average percent positive of those tests as of Sept. 25 was slightly above the state average, at 4.66 percent.

According to the Wednesday update, the number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 rose to 5,321, up from 5,308 on Tuesday. That rise represents an increase of 13, or a 0.24 percent change. The average age of fatal patients is 75, the median age 76. As of Sept. 23, 190 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 to 2,936 Wednesday, an increase of two. The number of deaths remained at 89, with 31,970 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 118.41 cases reported per 100,000 population on Sept. 9 to 107.13 per 100,000 on Sept. 23.

St. Martin Parish’s number of identified cases was at 2,106, an increase of three, with 28,580 tests performed. The LDH two-week incidence map shows that on Sept. 23, St. Martin Parish had 61.54 cases reported per 100,000 population, a 47.6 percent drop from 117.49 per 100,000 in the last update. The number of deaths remained at 61.

In St. Mary Parish, the total cases remained at 1,934 after 19,576 tests. The number of COVID-19 deaths remained at 77. The LDH incidence map shows that on Sept. 23 the parish had 162.74 cases reported per 100,000 population, up 30.7 percent from 124.56 on Sept. 9.

In Lafayette Parish, the Wednesday case count rose by 13, to 8,982, with the number of tests rising to 137,479. The number of deaths remained at 132. The LDH incidence map shows that the parish had 119.86 cases reported per 100,000 population on Sept. 23, down 12.9 percent from 137.57 on Sept. 9.

The number of cases in Jefferson Parish rose by 32 to 17,633 on Wednesday, compared to an increase of 23, to 12,672, in Orleans Parish. The latest data shows Orleans administered more tests, with 212,316 tests in Jefferson compared to 239,350 in Orleans.

Despite lower case numbers, the more urban Orleans Parish has seen 18 more deaths than its suburban neighbor. Orleans Parish deaths remained at 587. In Jefferson Parish, the total number of deaths remained at 569. The LDH two-week incidence map shows that on Sept. 23, Jefferson Parish had 108.28 cases reported per 100,000 population, down from 141.92 on Sept. 9. In Orleans, that number was 99.49 per 100,000, down from 173.65.

The LDH reporting of data on hospitalizations due to the disease is still running 24 hours behind. On Wednesday, the state reported 578 hospitalizations as of Tuesday, a decrease of 25 from 578 on Monday. The number of patients on ventilators dropped by one, to 79 Tuesday. That is down from 80 on Monday. 

The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Region 4, which covers Acadiana, dropped by 10, to 50 on Tuesday. The number of patients on ventilators Tuesday dropped by one, to five.

The overall intensive care bed occupancy rate in Region 4 rose to 80.25 percent Tuesday, with 130 beds occupied and 32 ICU beds still available. The total number of ICU beds increased by two, to 162. That is still down from the count of active ICU beds before Hurricane Laura, which hovered above 180.

Monday's data also showed that hospital bed occupancy was up in Region 4, with 1,210 — 77.1 percent — of the region’s beds occupied and 359 available. The total number of reported beds decreased by one, to 1,569.

Among K-12 schools, the state is currently reporting 823 cases, 262 among staff and faculty and 561 among students. On the higher education level, the state reports 2,675 cases among students living or attending classes on campus, 117 cases among students in virtual learning only since the beginning of the fall semester, 211 cases among staff and faculty working on campus and 25 among faculty and staff working virtually.

In its congregate setting tracking, LDH is showing 3,039 cases in 370 separate outbreaks. Almost a fourth of those, 813, are in 31 outbreaks at food processing facilities, with another 428 in 59 outbreaks at other industrial sites. 

The state is currently showing 477 cases identified in bars, in 42 outbreaks.

When compared by age group, the number of cases in the 18 to 29 demographic was at 37,081 Wednesday. 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 26,809, with 83 deaths, followed closely by the 40 to 49 age group, with 24,542 cases and 172 deaths, and the 50 to 59 age range with 24,042 cases, including 459 fatalities reported. 

The 70 and above group case count was at 19,173. The number of deaths in that group rose by seven, to 3,620 — 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 18,792 cases reported and 959 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 15,389 cases total and four reported deaths.

According to Wednesday’s update, labs in Louisiana have processed at least 2,317,179 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 1,425 as of Sept. 30. 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, 52.1 percent to 47.9 percent for women.

The number of presumed recovered cases, as of Sept. 28, rose to 154,163. 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. 30, the weekly update of fatalities by race showed the percentage of COVID-19 deaths among White victims climbed four-tenth of a percent, while the percentage 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 45.86 percent as of Sept. 30, while White victims now make up 52.63 percent of all fatal cases. 

The Native American/Alaskan Native rose to 0.09 percent. Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander data remained at 0.08 percent. Other races identified include Asian at 0.68 percent and Other at 0.58 percent. Unknown accounted for 0.02 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 (52.54 percent), diabetes (31.32 percent), and cardiac disease (20.52 percent).

Other factors included neurological disorders (19.53 percent), chronic kidney disease (18.3 percent), obesity (16.87 percent), congestive heart failure (13.43 percent), pulmonary issues (11.38 percent), cancer (6.66 percent), and asthma (3.4 percent).

 

Dwayne Fatherree is the community editor for The Daily Iberian. He can be reached at dwayne.fatherree@daily-iberian.com.

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