Bel Edwards press conference

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said an executive order will go into effect after midnight Sunday mandating the wearing of masks or facial coverings when people cannot be physically distant from others. 

Gov. Edwards announced a mask or facial covering requirement will go into effect after midnight Sunday night in response to the growing number of COVID-19 infections in the state.

As of noon, the state Department of Health update showed hospitalizations due to the disease increased overnight by 16.2 percent statewide. There were 76,803 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Louisiana, an increase of 2,167, or 2.9 percent, from Friday.

Region 4 saw an increase of seven occupied hospital beds, leaving 31 ICU beds still available and 148 occupied as hospitals scramble to add ICU space. The total number of ICU beds increased by one from Friday’s report, to 179.

The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Region 4, which covers the Acadiana region, went from 219 on Friday to 226 Saturday, with the number of patients on ventilators rising by two, to 32. In April, Region 4’s COVID-19 related hospitalizations had peaked on April 10, at 125, with ventilator use peaking on April 12 at 37.

The overall intensive care bed occupancy rate dropped Saturday to just under 83 percent, with 148 of the 179 beds available in Region 4 occupied. 

Saturday’s report shows that 1,169 of the 1,705 available hospital beds in the region — 68.6 percent — are occupied. 

Statewide, the number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 continues to fluctuate from day to day, climbing to 1,182 Saturday, an increase of 165. After rising by 61 Tuesday — and dropping the same amount Wednesday — the total went up 78 in Thursday’s report, to 1,042, then dropping 25, to 1,017, on Friday. As of Saturday, 121 of those patients were on ventilators, down one from Friday. 

By comparison, the hospitalizations statewide peaked at 1,991 on April 12. 

Over the last six days, the state’s number of identified infections grew 17.75 percent, from 65,226 last Sunday. The state did not report numbers on Saturday last week due to the July 4 holiday. Assigning 950 infections (half of the Sunday total) to Saturday, the 7-day increase would be 19.49 percent.

The state cumulative tally of COVID-19 deaths rose by 23, going from 3,272 in Friday’s report to 3,295 on Saturday. That rise represents an increase of 0.70 percent. As of Monday, 108 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. 

In Iberia Parish, the number of cases rose by 47, to 1,228. The number of deaths roe by two, to 51, with 11,609 tests performed in the parish. The LDH incidence map shows that from June 22 to July 5 the parish had 810.53 cases reported per 100,000 population.

St. Martin Parish’s number of identified cases rose by 36, to 999, with 12,299 tests performed. The LDH incidence map shows that from June 22 to July 5, the parish had 622.89 cases reported per 100,000 population. The number of deaths remained at 27.

In St. Mary Parish, the total cases rose from 704 to 741, after 7,503 tests. The number of COVID-19 deaths remained at 39. The LDH incidence map shows that from June 22 to July 5 the parish had 498.25 cases reported per 100,000 population.

In Lafayette Parish, the reported case count rose from 3,493 on Friday to 3,707 Friday, an increase of 214 cases or 6.14 percent. The number of deaths rose by one, to 52. There have been 51,813 tests reported in the parish.The LDH incidence map shows that from June 22 to July 5, the parish had 673.03 cases reported per 100,000 population.

The number of cases in Jefferson Parish was at 10,995 on Saturday, an increase of 183, compared to an increase of 122, to 8,598 cases, in Orleans Parish. Jefferson Parish’s testing has been more aggressive than that in Orleans — 98,357 tests in Jefferson compared to 87,571 in Orleans.

Despite lower case numbers, the more urban Orleans Parish has seen 49 more deaths than its suburban neighbor. Orleans Parish deaths were corrected downward by one, to 540. In Jefferson Parish, the total number of deaths rose by one, to 491. The LDH incidence map shows that from June 22 to July 5, Jefferson Parish had 339.82 cases reported per 100,000 population. In Orleans, that number was 171.61 per 100,000.

The 18 to 29 age group had 16,725 cases Saturday. It is the demographic group with the largest number of identified cases. The number of deaths reported in the group remained at 11. 

The number of COVID-19 cases identified in the 30-39 age group was at 12,623, with 59 deaths, followed closely by the 40 to 49 age group, with 11,745 cases and 116 deaths, and the 50-59 age range with 11,478 cases, including 288 fatalities reported. 

The 70 and above group case count was at 9,939. The number of deaths in that group rose by 17, to 2,233 — 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 9,082 cases reported and 585 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 5,051 cases total, with three deaths reported.

Labs in Louisiana have processed more than 900,000 COVID-19 tests so far. The state’s reference laboratory has performed 42,744 COVID-19 tests. Commercial labs have contributed 881,703 for a total of 924,447 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, 52 percent to 48 percent for women.

The number of presumed recovered cases, as of July 7, rose to 46,334. 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, but had not been as of Tuesday afternoon.

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 52.42 percent  Monday, with Caucasian victims making up 46.05 percent of all cases. Other races identified include Asian at 0.72 percent, other at 0.50 percent, Native American/Alaska Native at 0.13 percent and Native Hawaiin/Pacific Islander at 0.08 percent. That data is only reported once a week, updated on Monday.

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 (62.09 percent), diabetes (37.82 percent), and cardiac disease (21.22 percent).

Other factors included chronic kidney disease (20.41 percent), obesity (19.86 percent), neurological disorders (14.52 percent), congestive heart failure (14.32 percent), pulmonary issues (12.54 percent), cancer (7.62 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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