Keith Hulin

Keith Hulin, owner of Emerald's Billiards on Old Spanish Trail, said that he was waiting on officials to shut down his pool hall Wednesday night if they tried to enforce regulations that had been posted earlier in the day Wednesday. The restrictions were amended again on Thursday.

Even as Iberia and St. Martin parishes moved to allow more businesses — predominantly bars and other places offering alcoholic beverages — the state was changing the rules. 

In new guidance issued Wednesday and updated Thursday, the state moved to at first eliminate all live music and “bar games” — like pool, darts, shuffleboard and cornhole — would be disallowed.

That did not sit well with Emerald Billiards owner Keith Hulin.

“We did everything they asked,” he said Wednesday evening. “Now they are changing the rules again. They keep moving the goalposts.”

Although he expected a visit from the State Fire Marshal’s Office to shut him down (“They told me they were coming,” Hulin said), there were no citations Wednesday night.

On Thursday, the state’s guidance changed again, allowing live music outdoors and adding a codicil that would allow businesses using “Restaurant Conditional” permits, like Emerald’s, to operate under the less stringent restaurant restrictions instead of those applied to bars.

"When (State Fire Marshal) Butch Browning called me last night, he didn't know anything about the first one," Hulin said Thursday. "The no pool playing was not correct. He told me it would be changed by Friday."

The change also allows bars like Bourbon Hall, where the owners had already booked acoustic artists to play on the front porch this weekend, or Quarter Tavern, where a band will be playing outdoors Saturday, to continue with their plans.

Thursday’s data showed the state with 608 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, 166,584 identified infections so far, an increase of 0.37 percent from Wednesday’s total of 166,033.

The state added 16,141 new test results Thursday, making the rough positivity rate for those reported infections 3.77 percent.

The state’s seven-day average of tests given as of Sept. 25, the last date reported, was 28.07 tests per 10,000 residents. The positivity rate among those tests was 4.46 percent.

In Region 4, the Sept. 25 testing rate was below the state average, at 25.92 tests per 10,000 residents. The seven-day average percent positive of those tests as of Sept. 25 was slightly above the state average, at 4.66 percent.

According to the Thursday update, the number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 rose to 5,329, up from 5,321 on Wednesday. That rise represents an increase of eight, or a 0.15 percent change. The average age of fatal patients is 75, the median age 76. As of Sept. 23, 190 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 to 2,942 Thursday, an increase of six. The number of deaths remained at 89, with 32,374 tests performed in the parish. The LDH latest two-week incidence map update showed that the parish’s positive test rate dropped 28.46 percent, from 118.41 cases reported per 100,000 population on Sept. 9 to 107.13 per 100,000 on Sept. 23.

St. Martin Parish’s number of identified cases was at 2,103, a decrease of three, with 28,707 tests performed. The LDH two-week incidence map shows that on Sept. 23, St. Martin Parish had 61.54 cases reported per 100,000 population, a 47.6 percent drop from 117.49 per 100,000 in the last update. The number of deaths remained at 61.

In St. Mary Parish, the total cases remained at 1,943 after 19,669 tests. The number of COVID-19 deaths remained at 77. The LDH incidence map shows that on Sept. 23 the parish had 162.74 cases reported per 100,000 population, up 30.7 percent from 124.56 on Sept. 9.

In Lafayette Parish, the Thursday case count rose by 29, to 9,011, with the number of tests rising to 138,790. The number of deaths remained at 132. The LDH incidence map shows that the parish had 119.86 cases reported per 100,000 population on Sept. 23, down 12.9 percent from 137.57 on Sept. 9.

The number of cases in Jefferson Parish rose by 40 to 17,673 on Thursday, compared to an increase of 28, to 12,700, in Orleans Parish. The latest data shows Orleans administered more tests, with 213,686 tests in Jefferson compared to 240,685 in Orleans.

Despite lower case numbers, the more urban Orleans Parish has seen 17 more deaths than its suburban neighbor. Orleans Parish deaths remained at 587. In Jefferson Parish, the total number of deaths rose by one, to 570. The LDH two-week incidence map shows that on Sept. 23, Jefferson Parish had 108.28 cases reported per 100,000 population, down from 141.92 on Sept. 9. In Orleans, that number was 99.49 per 100,000, down from 173.65.

The LDH reporting of data on hospitalizations due to the disease is still running 24 hours behind. On Thursday, the state reported 534 hospitalizations as of Wednesday, a decrease of 19 from 553 on Tuesday. The number of patients on ventilators dropped by four, to 75 Wednesday. That is down from 79 on Tuesday. 

The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Region 4, which covers Acadiana, dropped by seven, to 43 on Wednesday. The number of patients on ventilators Tuesday dropped by one, to four.

The overall intensive care bed occupancy rate in Region 4 remained the same Wednesday — 80.25 percent, with 130 beds occupied and 32 ICU beds still available. The total number of ICU beds remained at 162. That is still down from the count of active ICU beds before Hurricane Laura, which hovered above 180.

Wednesday's data also showed that hospital bed occupancy was down slightly in Region 4, with 1,206 — 76.6 percent — of the region’s beds occupied and 368 available. The total number of reported beds increased by five, to 1,574.

Among K-12 schools, the state is currently reporting 523 cases, 262 among staff and faculty and 261 among students. On the higher education level, the state reports 2,675 cases among students living or attending classes on campus, 117 cases among students in virtual learning only since the beginning of the fall semester, 211 cases among staff and faculty working on campus and 25 among faculty and staff working virtually.

In its congregate setting tracking, LDH is showing 3,039 cases in 370 separate outbreaks. Almost a fourth of those, 813, are in 31 outbreaks at food processing facilities, with another 428 in 59 outbreaks at other industrial sites. 

The state is currently showing 477 cases identified in bars, in 42 outbreaks.

When compared by age group, the number of cases in the 18 to 29 demographic was at 37,182 Thursday. It is the demographic group with the largest number of identified cases by far. The number of deaths reported in the group remained at 24. 

The number of COVID-19 cases identified in the 30 to 39 age group was at 26,885, with 83 deaths, followed closely by the 40 to 49 age group, with 24,627 cases and 174 deaths, and the 50 to 59 age range with 24,112 cases, including 459 fatalities reported. 

The 70 and above group case count was at 19,239. The number of deaths in that group rose by five, to 3,625 — 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 18,856 cases reported and 960 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 15,478 cases total and four reported deaths.

According to Thursday’s update, labs in Louisiana have processed at least 2,333,320 COVID-19 tests so far. 

The state has also started tracking possible cases, which is the number of individuals with a positive test detecting SARS-CoV-2 antigens. That number was 1,425 as of Sept. 30. 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, 52.1 percent to 47.9 percent for women.

The number of presumed recovered cases, as of Sept. 28, rose to 154,163. 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. 30, the weekly update of fatalities by race showed the percentage of COVID-19 deaths among White victims climbed four-tenth of a percent, while the percentage of Black fatalities continued to drop.

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 45.86 percent as of Sept. 30, while White victims now make up 52.63 percent of all fatal cases. 

The Native American/Alaskan Native rose to 0.09 percent. Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander data remained at 0.08 percent. Other races identified include Asian at 0.68 percent and Other at 0.58 percent. Unknown accounted for 0.02 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 (52.54 percent), diabetes (31.32 percent), and cardiac disease (20.52 percent).

Other factors included neurological disorders (19.53 percent), chronic kidney disease (18.3 percent), obesity (16.87 percent), congestive heart failure (13.43 percent), pulmonary issues (11.38 percent), cancer (6.66 percent), and asthma (3.4 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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