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Louisiana is still adding more than 2,000 new COVID-19 cases a day as hospitals across southwest Louisiana are reaching capacity, according to the latest Louisiana Department of Health update.

On Friday, LDH reported 103,734 cases of COVID-19, an increase of 2,084, or 2.05 percent, from Thursday’s running total of 101,650. Over the last week, the state’s number of identified infections grew 17.09 percent, from 88,590 last Friday.

Statewide, hospitalizations due to the disease rose 1.01 percent since Thursday, climbing to 1,600, an increase of 16. As of Friday, 197 of those patients were on ventilators.

For perspective, the hospitalizations statewide peaked at 1,991 on April 12, with ventilator usage peaking at 571 on April 4. Today’s hospitalization total is the highest since April 22.

The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Region 4, which covers Acadiana, dropped from 297 on Thursday to 294 Friday, or 1.01 percent. The number of patients on ventilators rose by three, or 6.25 percent, to 51.

Both of those numbers eclipse the high points from earlier in the coronavirus outbreak. Previously, Region 4’s COVID-19 related hospitalizations had peaked on April 10, at 125, with ventilator use peaking on April 12 at 37.

The intensive care bed occupancy rate in Region 4 rose Friday to 85.86 percent, with 158 rooms occupied and 26 ICU beds still available. The total number of ICU beds rose by two, to 184.

Wednesday’s report also showed that 1,254 of the hospital beds in the region — 73.6 percent — are occupied, with 450 available. The total number of reported beds rose by 10, to 1,704.

Those numbers, however, belie the statements of leaders from several regional medical centers. Lafayette General Health, Our Lady of Lourdes and Our Lady of the Lake in Baton Rouge have all had representatives painting a dire picture of hospitals running out of room, with patients being transferred to hospitals across state lines and surgical services curtailed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

At Iberia Medical Center, the patient load in the ICU fluctuates daily. According to a hospital spokesperson, the hospital was at capacity in ICU Friday, but patients have been routinely discharged and admitted.

“The hospital’s inpatient COVID-19 volume today is 27,” said IMC Marketing Director Lisa Landry. “We have been consistently around 30 COVID inpatients over the last 10 days or so.” The hospital has additional negative pressure room capacity to care for coronavirus patients and are prepared to add additional rooms as needed.

Statewide, the number of deaths rose to 3,603 on Friday. That rise represents an increase of 29, or 0.81˛ percent, from Thursday’s total of 3,574. The average age of fatal patients is 74, the median age 76. As of July 22, 112 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 17, to 1,869. The number of deaths remained at 56, with 15,780 tests performed in the parish. The LDH incidence map shows that from July 2 to July 15 the parish had the second-highest incidence rate in the state, with 795.03 cases reported per 100,000 population.

St. Martin Parish’s number of identified cases were at 1,358, with 14,740 tests performed. The LDH incidence map shows that from July 2 to July 15, the parish had 635.94 cases reported per 100,000 population. The number of deaths remained at 34.

In St. Mary Parish, the total cases rose by 23, to 1,238, after 9,890 tests. The number of COVID-19 deaths remained at 40. The LDH incidence map shows that from July 2 to July 15 the parish had 873.95 cases reported per 100,000 population.

In Lafayette Parish, the reported case count rose from 5,458 on Thursday to 5,519 Friday, an increase of 61 cases, or 1.12 percent. The number of deaths rose by two, to 73. There have been 68,855 tests reported in the parish.The LDH incidence map shows that from July 2 to July 15, the parish had 698.98 cases reported per 100,000 population.

The number of cases in Jefferson Parish rose by 183 to 13,128 on Friday, compared to a rise of 103, to 9,752, in Orleans Parish. Jefferson Parish’s testing has been more aggressive than that in Orleans — 117,570 tests in Jefferson compared to 110,582 in Orleans.

Despite lower case numbers, the more urban Orleans Parish has seen 41 more deaths than its suburban neighbor. Orleans Parish deaths rose by two, to 548. In Jefferson Parish, the total number of deaths remained at 507 for a third day. The LDH incidence map shows that from July 2 to July 15, Jefferson Parish had 455.71 cases reported per 100,000 population. In Orleans, that number was 273.14 per 100,000.

Statewide, the 18 to 29 age group total rose to 22,925 cases 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 14. 

The number of COVID-19 cases identified in the 30-39 age group was at 17,094, with 65 deaths, followed closely by the 40 to 49 age group, with 15,688 cases and 128 deaths, and the 50-59 age range with 15,187 cases, including 318 fatalities reported. 

The 70 and above group case count was at 12,408. The number of deaths in that group rose by 22, to 2,436 — 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 11,853 cases reported and 638 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 8,404 cases total and four reported deaths.

Labs in Louisiana have processed 1,199,726 COVID-19 tests so far. 

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 43 percent and the other one percent identified as unknown or other. 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 July 21, rose to 61,456. 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.

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

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