Christmasy COVID

The number of deaths from COVID-19 in Louisiana crossed the 5,000 mark Friday as the state dipped its toe into Phase 3 of the state’s recovery plan for the disease.

According to the Louisiana Department of Health’s Friday update, the number of deaths attributed to the coronavirus outbreak rose to 5,032, up from 4,991 on Thursday. That rise represents an increase of 41, or a 0.82 percent change. The average age of fatal patients is 75, the median age 77. As of Sept. 9, 170 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.

Friday’s LDH report showed 156,174 identified COVID-19 infections so far, an increase of 844, or 0.54 percent, from Thursday’s total of 155,419.

The state added 27,234 new test results Friday, for a rough positivity rate of 3.1 percent. 

The state’s testing volume has climbed in recent days. The seven-day average of tests given as of Sept. 4, the last date reported, was 26.39 tests per 10,000 residents. The positivity rate among the tests was 6.97 percent.

The last time the seven-day average positivity rate was below 7 percent was on June 6, when it was at 6.94 percent.

In Region 4, the Sept. 4 testing rate is slightly above the state average, at 26.68 tests per 10,000 residents. The seven-day average percent positive of those tests as of Sept. 4 was above the state average, at 7.1 percent.

In Iberia Parish, the number of cases dropped by one on Friday, to 2,826. The number of deaths remained at 89, with 28,551 tests performed in the parish. The LDH latest two-week incidence map update showed that the parish’s positive test rate dropped 156.4 percent, from 365.09 cases reported per 100,000 population on Aug. 12 to 142.37 per 100,000 between Aug. 13 and Aug. 26.

St. Martin Parish’s number of identified cases rose by three, to 2,037, with 25,793 tests performed. The LDH two-week incidence map shows that from Aug. 13 and Aug. 26 St. Martin Parish had 186.49 cases reported per 100,000 population, a 176 percent drop from 514.72 per 100,000 in the last update. The number of deaths remained at 58.

In St. Mary Parish, the total cases rose by five to 1,812, after 16,184 tests. The number of COVID-19 deaths rose by one, to 75. The LDH incidence map shows that from Aug. 13 and Aug. 26 the parish had 176.8 cases reported per 100,000 population, down 152.3 percent from 446.02 on Aug. 12.

In Lafayette Parish, the Friday case count rose by 26, to 8,612, with the number of tests rising to 125,564. The number of deaths remained at 116. The LDH incidence map shows that the parish had 163.93 cases reported per 100,000 population between Aug. 13 and Aug. 26, down roughly half from 339.81 on Aug. 12.

The number of cases in Jefferson Parish rose by 54 to 16,974 on Friday, compared to an increase of 62, to 12,125, in Orleans Parish. The latest data has Orleans surpassing Jefferson’s testing total, with 189,356 tests in Jefferson compared to 198,664 in Orleans.

Despite lower case numbers, the more urban Orleans Parish has seen 25 more deaths than its suburban neighbor. Orleans Parish deaths rose by one, to 584. In Jefferson Parish, the total number of deaths rose by one, to 559. The LDH incidence map shows that from Aug. 13 to Aug. 26, Jefferson Parish had 162.88 cases reported per 100,000 population, down from 287.52. In Orleans, that number was 125.06 per 100,000, down from 156.01.

The LDH reporting of data on hospitalizations due to the disease appears to now be running 24 hours behind. On Friday, the state reported 723 hospitalizations as of Thursday, a decrease of 39 from 762 on Wednesday. The number of patients on ventilators dropped by eight, to 117 Thursday. That is down from 125 on Wednesday. 

The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Region 4, which covers Acadiana, dropped by 11 to 64 on Thursday, down from 75 on Wednesday. The number of patients on ventilators Thursday dropped by four, to 12.

The overall intensive care bed occupancy rate in Region 4 dropped almost 11 percentage points, from more than 93 percent Wednesday to 82.3 percent Thursday, with 135 rooms occupied and 29 ICU beds still available. The total number of ICU beds rose by three, to 164. That is still down from the count of active ICU beds before Hurricane Laura, which hovered above 180.

Thursday's report also showed that Wednesday’s hospital bed occupancy in Region 4 was at 1,248 — 79.9 percent — of the region’s beds occupied, with 313 available. The total number of reported beds rose by 18, to 1,561.

When compared by age group, the number of cases in the 18 to 29 demographic was at 34,555 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 23. 

The number of COVID-19 cases identified in the 30 to 39 age group was at 25,425, with 80 deaths, followed closely by the 40 to 49 age group, with 23,210 cases and 161 deaths, and the 50 to 59 age range with 22,698 cases, including 433 fatalities reported. 

The 70 and above group case count was at 18,194. The number of deaths in that group rose by 30, to 3,434 — 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 17,762 cases reported and 897 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 14,124 cases total and four reported deaths.

According to Friday’s update, labs in Louisiana have processed at least 2,036,818 COVID-19 tests so far. 

The state has also started tracking probable cases, which is the number of individuals with a positive test detecting SARS-CoV-2 antigens. That number was 935 as of Sept. 9. 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. 9, rose to 140,440. 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. 9, the weekly update of fatalities by race showed the percentage of COVID-19 deaths among White victims climbed another quarter of a percent, while the number of Black fatalities dropped by almost three-tenths of a percent.

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 46.9 percent  as of Sept. 2, while White victims now make up 51.58 percent of all fatal cases. 

The category for victims of unknown race rose to 0.02 percent this week. The Native American/Alaskan Native data was at 0.08 percent. The Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander category remained at 0.08 percent. Other races identified include Asian at 0.69 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 (54.37 percent), diabetes (32.66 percent), and cardiac disease (20.64 percent).

Other factors included neurological disorders (19.95 percent), chronic kidney disease (18.76 percent), obesity (17.25 percent), congestive heart failure (13.70 percent), pulmonary issues (11.84 percent), cancer (6.80 percent), and asthma (3.55 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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