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The latest numbers from the Louisiana Department of Health on the spread of COVID-19 across the state are showing a slight increase from the excellent news they have portrayed over the last two weeks.

Those numbers, however, also come from Monday and Tuesday data, which is usually higher than numbers collected over the weekend, when there is less testing and overall activity.

Wednesday's update of positivity rates and other data will give a clearer picture of where the infection is heading, but any projection of an increase in activity will not be verifiable until the Sept. 30 update of positivity rates. That information usually runs one week behind the reporting date. The state's two-week incidence report will not reflect any increase this week until the report on Oct. 14.

Tuesday’s LDH report showed the state with more than 700 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 162,214 identified infections so far, an increase of 730, or 0.45 percent, from Sunday’s total of 161,462.

The state added 21,182 new test results Monday, making the rough positivity rate for those reported infections 3.45 percent.

The state’s seven-day average of tests given as of Sept. 16, the last date reported, was 26.68 tests per 10,000 residents. The positivity rate among those tests was 5.31 percent.

In Region 4, the Sept. 16 testing rate is below the state average, at 25.52 tests per 10,000 residents. The seven-day average percent positive of those tests as of Sept. 16 was below the state average, at 5.0 percent. The last time Region 4’s seven-day average was that low was on March 18, when it was at 4.1 percent.

According to the Tuesday update, the number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 rose to 5,218, up from 5,207 on Monday. That rise represents an increase of 11, or a 0.21 percent change. The average age of fatal patients is 75, the median age 77. As of Sept. 16, 168 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 by 16 on Tuesday, to 2,896. The number of deaths remained at 89, with 30,698 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 142.37 cases reported per 100,000 population on Aug. 26 to 118.41 per 100,000 between Aug. 27 and Sept. 9.

St. Martin Parish’s number of identified cases rose by 15, to 2,073, with 27,312 tests performed. The LDH two-week incidence map shows that, from Aug. 27 to Sept. 9, St. Martin Parish had 117.49 cases reported per 100,000 population, a 37 percent drop from 186.49 per 100,000 in the last update. The number of deaths remained at 61.

In St. Mary Parish, the total cases rose by nine to 1,900, after 18,623 tests. The number of COVID-19 deaths remained at 77. The LDH incidence map shows that from Aug. 26 to Sept. 9 the parish had 124.56 cases reported per 100,000 population, down 29.5 percent from 176.8 on Aug. 25.

In Lafayette Parish, the Tuesday case count rose by 48, to 8,870, with the number of tests rising to 131,793. The number of deaths rose by one, to 124. The LDH incidence map shows that the parish had 137.57 cases reported per 100,000 population between Aug. 27 and Sept. 9, down 16.8 percent from 163.93 on Aug. 26.

The number of cases in Jefferson Parish rose by 45 to 17,344 on Tuesday, compared to an increase of 62, to 12,407, in Orleans Parish. The latest data shows Orleans administered more tests, with 202,741 tests in Jefferson compared to 222,392 in Orleans.

Despite lower case numbers, the more urban Orleans Parish has seen 22 more deaths than its suburban neighbor. Orleans Parish deaths remained at 587. In Jefferson Parish, the total number of deaths remained at 565. The LDH incidence map shows that from Aug. 13 to Aug. 26, Jefferson Parish had 141.92 cases reported per 100,000 population, down from 162.88 on Aug. 26. In Orleans, that number was 173.65 per 100,000, up from 125.06.

The LDH reporting of data on hospitalizations due to the disease is still running 24 hours behind. On Tuesday, the state reported 571 hospitalizations as of Monday, a decrease of 16 from 587 on Sunday. The number of patients on ventilators rose by three, to 96 Monday. That is up from 93 on Sunday. 

The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Region 4, which covers Acadiana, dropped by four to 51 on Monday, up from 50 on Sunday. The number of patients on ventilators Monday rose by one, to nine.

The overall intensive care bed occupancy rate in Region 4 rose from 79.7 percent Sunday to 84.2 percent Monday, with 128 beds occupied and 24 ICU beds still available. The total number of ICU beds dropped by six, to 152. That is down from the count of active ICU beds before Hurricane Laura, which hovered above 180.

Monday's data also showed that hospital bed occupancy was up in Region 4, with 1,149 — 74.8 percent — of the region’s beds occupied and 388 available. The total number of reported beds dropped by nine, to 1,537.

When compared by age group, the number of cases in the 18 to 29 demographic was at 36,088 Tuesday. It is the demographic group with the largest number of identified cases by far. The number of deaths reported in the group rose by one, to 24. 

The number of COVID-19 cases identified in the 30 to 39 age group was at 26,313, with 80 deaths, followed closely by the 40 to 49 age group, with 24,507 cases and 171 deaths, and the 50 to 59 age range with 23,542 cases, including 451 fatalities reported. 

The 70 and above group case count was at 18,769. The number of deaths in that group rose by six, to 3,552 — 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 18,396 cases reported and 936 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 14,842 cases total and four reported deaths.

According to Monday’s update, labs in Louisiana have processed at least 2,205,935 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 1,039 as of Sept. 16. 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. 14, rose to 145,570. 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. 16, the weekly update of fatalities by race showed the percentage of COVID-19 deaths among White victims climbed another half a percent, while the number of Black fatalities dropped by almost the same amount.

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 46.44 percent  as of Sept. 16, while White victims now make up 52.08 percent of all fatal cases. 

The category for victims of unknown race dropped to zero this week. The Native American/Alaskan Native and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander data remained at 0.08 percent each. Other races identified include Asian at 0.67 percent and Other at 0.63 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 (55.28 percent), diabetes (33.08 percent), and cardiac disease (21.14 percent).

Other factors included neurological disorders (20.42 percent), chronic kidney disease (19.16 percent), obesity (17.61 percent), congestive heart failure (14.04 percent), pulmonary issues (12.00 percent), cancer (6.90 percent), and asthma (3.57 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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