COVID-19 update

The Louisiana Department of Health reported the third-highest climb in daily identified infections Friday as Gov. John Bel Edwards announced that the state will begin taking action to close businesses which are not complying with the state’s masking and social distancing guidelines to curtail the spread of COVID-19.

“We’re not going to allow the bad actors to require the entire state of Louisiana to move backwards,” he said. “I don’t want to shut a single business down. Not one. But I will do that.”

Edwards’ comments came during a meeting of the Resilient Louisiana Commission, which makes recommendations to the governor about the phased reopening as Louisiana responds to the COVID-19 pandemic. On Thursday, a group of Republican lawmakers in Baton Rouge said they had enough votes to overturn the governor’s extension of the Phase Two restrictions for the state, allowing the state to go forward without restrictions.

According to an LDH press release, 91 percent of today’s increase in case growth is tied to community spread rather than congregate settings, like nursing homes or workplaces. The specimen collection dates for 92 percent of those cases range from June 19 to June 26, meaning today’s increase is not tied to a backlog of older test results.

The percent positivity of test results reported to the state is 7.8 percent, according to LDH. Previously, Edwards has said it is time for concern when that number rises above six percent. The federal guideline is to keep it below 10 percent.

Overall, LDH reported 54,769 identified cases of COVID-19 Friday, an increase of 1,354, or 1.79 percent, from Thursday’s total of 53,415. 

The state cumulative tally of COVID-19 deaths rose by 26, going from 3,051 in Thursday’s report to 3,077 on Friday. That rise represents an increase of 0.39 percent. As of Monday, 113 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 Monday. 

The number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 rose by 47, to 700, with 73 of those patients remaining on ventilators, a decrease of four. In District 4, which covers Acadiana, the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations rose by eight, to 95, with the number of patients on ventilators falling by three, to seven.

Although there is not yet a shortage of hospital rooms or ventilators in Region 4, the patients currently occupying intensive care rooms remained at more than three-quarters — 141 of 182. Overall, 1,173 of the 1,724 available hospital beds in the region — just over 70 percent — are occupied.

St. Martin Parish’s number of identified cases rose by 32, to 638, with 7,867 tests performed. The LDH incidence map shows that from June 11 to June 17, the parish had 358.07 cases reported per 100,000 population. The number of deaths remained at 26. 

In Iberia Parish, the number of cases rose by 40, to 610. The number of deaths rose by one, to 44, with 8,300 tests performed in the parish. The LDH incidence map shows that from June 11 to June 17 the parish had 69.07 cases reported per 100,000 population.

In St. Mary Parish, the total cases rose by 11, to 426, after 5,212 tests. The number of COVID-19 deaths rose by one, to 38. The LDH incidence map shows that from June 11 to June 17 the parish had 50.23 cases reported per 100,000 population.

In Lafayette Parish, the reported case count rose by 139, to 1,862 Friday. The number of deaths rose by four, to 41. There have been 36,771 tests reported in the parish.The LDH incidence map shows that from June 11 to June 17, the parish had 123.98 cases reported per 100,000 population.

According to The Acadiana Advocate, State Fire Marshal Butch Browning is preparing to crack down on businesses in Lafayette that have started offering live music in violation of the Phase Two restrictions. The Acadiana area has emerged as a hotspot in the resurgence of COVID-19 across the state.

The number of cases in Jefferson Parish was reported up 95, at 9,169 on Friday, compared to a rise of 43, to 7,681 cases, in Orleans Parish. Jefferson Parish’s testing has been more aggressive than that in Orleans — 77,196 tests in Jefferson compared to 67,256 in Orleans.

The more urban Orleans Parish has seen 49 more deaths than its suburban neighbor. Orleans Parish reported deaths rose by one, to 530. Deaths in Jefferson rose by one, to 481. The LDH incidence map shows that from June 11 to June 17, Jefferson Parish had 102.75 cases reported per 100,000 population. In Orleans, that number was 41.94 per 100,000.

The 18 to 29 age group had 10,018 cases Friday, a jump of 448 from 9,570 cases on Wednesday and right at a third of the daily total. It is the demographic group with the largest number of identified cases. The number of deaths reported in the group rose by one, to 11. 

The number of COVID-19 cases identified in the 30-39 age group rose by 211, to 8,845, with 55 deaths, followed closely by the 50-59 age range, which rose by 153, to 8,784, including 269 fatalities. In the 40 to 49 age group, the number of cases rose by 177 to 8,643 with 111 deaths reported. 

The 70 and above group case count rose by 126, to 8,278. The number of deaths in that group rose to 2,085 — still the largest number of fatalities for any age group by far, more than the number of deaths in all other groups combined and two-thirds of the total COVID-19 attributed deaths in the state.

In the 60 to 69 age group, there were 7,271 cases reported and 543 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 2,709 cases total, with three deaths reported.

Louisiana has performed more than 600,000 COVID-19 tests so far. The state’s reference laboratory has performed 33,319 COVID-19 tests. Commercial labs have contributed 644,687, for a total of 678,006 tests. 

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 42 percent and the other two percent identified as unknown or other. On the other hand, the COVID-19 deaths are predominantly among men, 53 percent to 47 percent for women.

The number of presumed recovered cases, as of June 21, rose to 39,792. 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. As with the number of probable fatalities, that statistic is scheduled to be updated weekly, on Monday.

The breakdown of COVID-19 fatalities by ethnicity and race showed some change last week, with the percentage of those deaths in the black community making up more than half of all cases. 

Initially, LDH reported that 70 percent of all COVID-19 deaths in the state were in the black community. That number has since hovered in the mid-to-high 50-percent range. It was at 53.11 percent  Monday, with Caucasian victims making up 45.32 percent of all cases. Other races identified include Asian at 0.74 percent, other at 0.57 percent, Native American/Alaska Native at 0.10 percent and Native Hawaiin/Pacific Islander at 0.08 percent. That data is only reported once a week.

The number is still disproportionate to the demographics of the state’s population. African Americans make up about 40 percent of Louisiana’s populace. 

The top three underlying conditions among COVID-19 deaths in the latest report were hypertension (60.09 percent), diabetes (36.83 percent), and cardiac disease (20.39 percent).

Other factors included chronic kidney disease (20.19 percent), obesity (19.42 percent), congestive heart failure (13.74 percent), neurological disorders (12.67 percent), pulmonary issues (11.93 percent), cancer (7.35 percent), and asthma (4.28 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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