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On Thursday, the Louisiana Department of Health made its last update of its COVID-19 dashboard until after Christmas. Because LDH does not update the dashboard on Saturdays, Sunday’s report will contain three days worth of data.

The Christmas Eve update showed the state adding more than 2,500 new COVID-19 cases as the state closed in on the 300,000 overall case mark.

The dashboard showed Louisiana adding 2,562 identified cases out of 27,919 new tests overnight. That raised the total identified infections so far in the state to 296,499. Of those, 271,177 are confirmed, with 25,352 listed as possible cases.

According to an LDH spokesman, people initially identified as having a positive antigen test who are later identified as having a positive confirmatory test will be removed from the possible case count and added to the cumulative case count.

The rough positivity rate for Thursday’s tests is 9.2 percent.

According to the update, the number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 rose to 7,272, an increase of 46 from Tuesday’s total of 7,226. Of those, 6,918 are confirmed, with 354 considered probable COVID-19 fatalities pending final testing. 

That rise represents an increase of 0.64 percent. The average age of fatal patients was 75, while the median age remained at 77.

In Iberia Parish, the number of cases was at 4,587 Thursday, an increase of 44. Of those, 4,339 are confirmed, with 249 probable. The number of deaths rose by one, to 120, with 114 confirmed and six probable. There have been 56,864 tests performed in the parish. The seven-day average test positivity rose by 11.6 percent, from 9.6 percent on Dec. 9 to 11.6 percent on Dec. 16, but the incidence of tests decreased from 332.67 per 10,000 population to 319.98.

St. Martin Parish’s number of identified cases rose to 3,588, an increase of 69, with 44,001 tests performed. The seven-day average test positivity rate dropped by 4.4 percent, from 13.0 percent on Dec. 9 to 14.3 percent on Dec. 16 while the incidence rate per 10,000 population rose from 393.5 on Dec. 9 to 425.21 on Dec. 16. The number of deaths rose by one, to 81, with 75 confirmed and six probable.

In St. Mary Parish, the seven-day positivity rate rose by 16.7 percent on Dec. 16 to 7.7 percent, up from 6.6 percent on Dec. 9. The incidence rate per 10,000 population increased, from 210.95 on Dec. 9 to 227.03 on Dec. 16. Total cases rose to 2,878 Thursday, an increase of 18, after 35,356 tests. Of those cases, 2,630 are confirmed, with 248 probable. The number of COVID-19 deaths remained at 101, with 95 confirmed and six probable. 

In Lafayette Parish, the Thursday case count rose by 153, to 15,859, with the number of tests rising to 218,937. The seven-day test positivity average rose from 11.3 percent on Dec. 9 to 11.7  percent as of Dec. 16, an increase of 3.5 percent. The incidence rate per 10,000 population rose during the same period, from 367.41 to 420.13. The number of deaths remained at 183, with 174 confirmed and nine probable. 

The number of cases in Jefferson Parish rose to 29,462 on Thursday, an increase of 272, compared to an increase of 172, to 19,520 in Orleans Parish. The latest data shows Orleans administered more tests, with 519,348, compared to 394,917 tests in Jefferson.

Jefferson Parish has once again surpassed the confirmed COVID-19 death toll in Orleans Parish. Orleans Parish deaths remained at 673, with 632 confirmed and 41 probable. In Jefferson Parish, the total number of deaths was at 666, with 640 confirmed and 26 probable.

The LDH reporting on hospitalizations statewide due to coronavirus infections showed 1,633 hospitalizations on Wednesday, a decrease of 43 from 1,675 on Tuesday. The number of patients on ventilators rose by three, to 199. 

The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Region 4, which covers Acadiana, fell by four, to 185 Wednesday, down from 189 Tuesday. The number of patients on ventilators Wednesday dropped by two, to 23.

Overall hospital bed occupancy in Region 4 was at 76.6 percent, with 1,195 of the region’s beds occupied and 366 available. The total number of reported beds was at 1,561.

Overall intensive care unit occupancy across Acadiana remained at 80 percent Wednesday, with 128 of 160 beds occupied.

The overall occupancy percentages are based on all cases, not just COVID-19 cases, and includes not only the physical bed and space but also the staff required to issue care. The burden of additional patient load affects the ability of hospitals to serve all patients, especially in critical care situations.

Broken down by age group, the number of cases statewide in the 18 to 29 demographic was at 63,059 Wednesday. It is the demographic group with the largest number of identified cases by far. The number of deaths reported in the group was 28. 

The number of COVID-19 cases identified in the 30 to 39 age group was at 47,566, with 96 deaths, followed closely by the 40 to 49 age group, with 43,202 cases and 224 deaths, and the 50 to 59 age range with 42,618 cases, including 602 fatalities reported. 

In the 60 to 69 age group, there were 33,815 cases reported and 1,325 deaths. This age group has the second-highest number of deaths, behind only the 70 and above demographic group.

The 70 and above group case count was at 32,033. The number of deaths in that group rose to 4,990 — 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.

The under 18 group, the smallest demographic segment, had 33,919 cases total — 6,257 age 4 and under — and seven reported deaths.

The state’s seven-day average of tests given as of Dec. 16 was 325 tests per 10,000 residents, down from 328.3 on Dec. 9. The positivity rate among those tests rose to 9.8 percent, up from 9.2 percent on Dec. 9. 

In Region 4, the Dec. 2 numbers continued to trend worse than the state average. Although the testing rate in the region rose to 371.2 tests per 10,000 residents, the seven-day average percent positive of those tests was well above the state average at 10.4 percent, up from 10.1 percent on Dec. 9. 

According to Thursday’s update, labs in Louisiana have processed 4,243,015 COVID-19 tests so far. 

By gender, the state’s weekly 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, 52.4 percent to 47.6 percent for women.

The number of presumed recovered cases, as of Dec. 21, rose to 247,501. 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 Dec. 23, the weekly update of fatalities by race showed the percentage of COVID-19 deaths among White victims continued to climb. 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 41.66 percent as of Dec. 23, while White victims now make up 57.7 percent of all fatal cases. 

The Native American/Alaskan Native total was at 0.1 percent. Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander data remained at 0.08 percent. Other races identified include Asian at 0.67 percent and Other at 0.35 percent.

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 (63.99 percent), diabetes (37.29 percent), and neurological disorders (27.38 percent).

Other factors included cardiac disease (26.54 percent), chronic kidney disease (22.22 percent), obesity (20.75 percent), congestive heart failure (16.8 percent), pulmonary issues (14.53 percent), cancer (8.71 percent), and asthma (4.09 percent). Only 4.2 percent of all patients had no underlying conditions.

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

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