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While Gov. John Bel Edwards was in Washington securing a promise of support for testing to get the state's businesses reopened later this month, the spread of COVID-19 continued across the state.

The Louisiana Department of Health showed 341 new cases of COVID-19 in its Thursday update, bringing the state’s total identified cases to 28,001. 

The state tally of COVID-19 deaths also moved forward, adding 60 new fatalities to 1,862, a 3.3 percent increase.

As of Monday’s update, 43 of those deaths were still considered probable COVID-19 fatalities pending final testing. That number is updated weekly. 

In Iberia Parish, the total number of cases rose by 10, from 247 to 257 based on 2,253 tests. The number of deaths increased as well, from 19 to 21.

In St. Martin Parish, the number of known cases rose to 232, up two from 228 on Wednesday with 1,788 tests. The number of deaths rose by one to 17.

St. Mary Parish saw an increase of six cases, from 185 to 191, after 1,064 tests. The number of COVID-19 deaths in the parish remained at 20.

In Lafayette Parish, the case count rose by four to 455. The fatality count remained at 20. There have been 8,783 tests performed in the parish.

Orleans Parish cases rose by 32 to 6,452, with 23,457 tests performed there. The total number of cases in neighboring Jefferson Parish rose by 24 to reach 6,197 based on 22,675 tests. Deaths in Orleans Parish, however, continue to outstrip those in suburban Jefferson. Orleans Parish deaths rose by 18, to 434 overnight, compared to six deaths added in Jefferson, bringing the total to 346.

The state’s reference laboratory has performed 7,846 tests as of Thursday’s report. The figure for commercial laboratories rose to 153,463.

The current number of Louisiana COVID-19 cases identified in the 50-59 age range, the largest group of confirmed cases, rose to 5,391 — including 165 fatalities. 

The 70 and above group case count rose to 5,095 cases. The number of deaths in that group rose by 49 to 1,248 — still the largest number of fatalities for any age group by far, more than the number of deaths in all other groups combined.

In the 40 to 49 age group, the number of cases has risen to 4,795 with 67 deaths reported. In the 60 to 69 age group, there were 4,738 cases reported and 338 deaths.  

There were 4,441 identified cases in the 30-39 age group, and 35 deaths. The 18 to 29 age group had 3,183 cases and eight reported deaths. The under 18 group had 358 cases total, with one death reported.

The number of patients on ventilators dropped to 231 Thursday. The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients dropped by 28, to 1,601.

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 40 percent and the other four percent identified as unknown or other.

In its Wednesday data update, COVID-19 cases were reported among residents of 156 of the state’s 279 nursing homes and 74 of the state’s other assisted living facilities, for a total of 230 of the 436 licensed facilities in the state.

By resident, 2,780 nursing home residents and 361 other residents have been reported as having COVID-19, for a total of 3,141. That is a 7.68 percent increase over Monday’s total of 2,917 residents.

That number includes 637 deaths, 590 in nursing homes and 47 in other facilities. That is an 8 percent increase since Monday and accounts for more than a third of the state’s overall deaths. That is a 16 percent increase from the 401 deaths reported Monday.

The lack of any details regarding the location of the affected facilities, especially those where clusters of cases are identified. 

As far as staff is concerned, LDH does not track the occupations of those who are deemed positive for COVID-19, so there is no information on how many healthcare workers at the state’s nursing homes may be infected.

LDH updates the number of residents who are confirmed to have COVID-19 and the number of deaths among these residents on Mondays and Wednesdays.

The number of presumed recovered cases, updated weekly, rose Monday to 17,303. 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.

The breakdown of COVID-19 fatalities by ethnicity and race showed some change, with the percentage of those deaths in the black community rising, but not to the point it had been three weeks ago. 

Initially, LDH reported that 70 percent of all COVID-19 deaths in the state were in the black community. That number dropped to 59 percent, then 56 percent last week. In this week’s update, the number notched slightly higher, to 58.28 percent. 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 (55.28 percent), diabetes (34.35 percent) and chronic kidney disease (19.74 percent). Other factors included obesity (18.36 percent), cardiac disease (18.43 percent), pulmonary issues (11.68 percent), congestive heart failure (10.74 percent), cancer (7.75 percent), neurological disorders (7.81 percent), and asthma (3.62 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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