testing

Louisiana National Guardsmen with the 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team and the 62nd Weapons of Mass Destruction — Civil Support Team gather information from first responders and medical personnel at a COVID-19 mobile testing site in Louisiana.

The Louisiana Department of Health showed a slight increase in COVID-19 cases Saturday, adding 115 new identified infections to the state’s tally, but that number is likely very low because of a server error that prevented LDH from properly accounting for commercial lab test results.

“Due to server issues, the most recent update is not inclusive of total commercial lab data,” a note on the LDH website explained. “The State Lab data have not been impacted. Once resolved, LDH will update at the next noon update.” 

The server error is the latest in as many weeks to affect the LDH update of COVID-19 statistics. In addition to server errors, issues with adding reports from new labs have caused numbers to fluctuate, while reassignment of data between parishes has caused some anomalies to appear, such as large increases in identified cases in certain parishes or an apparent reduction in the number of deaths from day to day in other parishes.

The bulk of the testing in Louisiana has come through commercial laboratories. The state reference lab has processed 15,629 COVID-19 tests so far, while the state reported 298,818 tests processed through commercial labs as of Saturday.

For comparison purposes, the number of commercial lab results recorded from Friday to Saturday was 1,448. The previous day, from Thursday to Friday, 5,557 new tests were added.

Saturday’s partial update brings the total identified COVID-19 infections in the state to 37,040. That marks a 0.31 percent increase over Friday’s total of 36,925, which is a much lower increase than has been seen in more than six weeks. According to an LDH press release Thursday, the department expected higher case counts in the coming days while ramping up testing in group settings, like processing plants and nursing homes. 

As identified cases rise, the number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 is continuing to trend downward, dropping by 31 to 836. The number of patients statewide on ventilators climbed slightly, rising by eight to 112.

The state cumulative tally of COVID-19 deaths increased by 15, going from 2,545 on Friday to 2,560 in Saturday’s report. That rise represents an increase of 0.59 percent. As of May 17, 123 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. 

Due to the commercial testing server issues, the total number of cases remained at 388 for Iberia Parish Saturday. The number of deaths remained at 36, with only one new test being recorded to bring that total to 3,964 tests in the parish.

In St. Mary Parish, there were no changes reported at all. The number of identified cases remained at 294 from 2,591 tests. The number of COVID-19 deaths in the parish remained at 29.

St. Martin Parish data also remained unchanged. Total cases were at 288 with 2,858 tests performed. The number of deaths remained static at 22.

In Lafayette Parish, the case count climbed by 22 to 637. The number of deaths remained at  23. There have been 14,431 tests reported in the parish, an increase of 55.

The number of cases in Jefferson Parish rose by one to 7,233 on Saturday after adding 155 tests, compared to a rise of five new cases in Orleans Parish to bring that total to 6,949, with only 163 new tests being recorded. Both parishes have had similar numbers of tests conducted — 40,743 in Jefferson compared to 40,312 in Orleans.

Even with similar case and test numbers, the more urban Orleans Parish has seen 68 more deaths than its suburban neighbor, but neither saw any new deaths for the second day in a row. Orleans Parish deaths remained at 500. Jefferson remained at 432 fatalities.

The number of Louisiana COVID-19 cases identified in the 50-59 age range rose to 6,885, including 228 fatalities. 

The 70 and above group case count rose to 6,510 cases, making it the age group with the largest number of identified cases. The number of deaths in that group rose to 1,710 — 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 40 to 49 age group, the number of cases has risen to 6,171 with 96 deaths reported. There were 5,867 identified cases in the 30-39 age group, and 45 deaths. In the 60 to 69 age group, there were 5,761 cases reported and 470 deaths.  

The 18 to 29 age group had 5,041 cases and nine reported deaths. The under 18 group had 805 cases total, with two deaths reported.

By gender, the state’s daily report shows women making up the largest part — 55 percent — of the identified COVID-19 cases in the state, with men comprising 40 percent and the other five percent identified as unknown or other. On the other hand, the COVID-19 deaths are predominantly among men, 54.40 percent to 45.6 percent for women.

The state resumed reporting information on the number of infections among nursing home residents and staff on Monday, as well as the number of deaths among residents. In Iberia Parish, the data showed only one home, Consolata Nursing Home, had no reported infections among its 63 residents, although it had one employee reported to have tested positive for COVID-19. 

At the other end of the scale, New Iberia Manor South reported 52 of its 53 residents tested positive for COVID-19, along with 21 staff members. Thirteen of the facility’s residents have died from the disease. 

The state had reported the number of clusters of infections at specific nursing homes and long-term care facilities until April 1, when it stopped. Instead, LDH began reporting aggregate totals of infected facilities and residents. Those reports were also limited to twice a week, on Monday and Wednesday.

This is also the first time LDH has reported the number of COVID-19 infections among the staff at these facilities. The report is scheduled to be updated weekly.

The number of presumed recovered cases, as of May 17, rose to 26,249. 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 rising, but not to the point it had been a month ago. 

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 dropped to 55.33 percent  Monday from 56.07 percent a week ago. 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 (59.39 percent), diabetes (36.65 percent), and cardiac disease (20.92 percent). Other factors included chronic kidney disease (20.10 percent), obesity (19.69 percent), congestive heart failure (12.90 percent), pulmonary issues (11.71 percent), neurological disorders (8.43 percent), cancer (7.57 percent), and asthma (4.15 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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