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The full Federal Food and Drug Administration authorization of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine Monday has organizations across the state starting to put vaccination and testing mandates in place for everything from large public events to accessing the workplace. 

The latest — and largest — mandate applies to attendees at Louisiana State University football games, who will now have to show proof of vaccination or a negative test record taken within 72 hours of entry to the stadium.

Ochsner Health System also announced its vaccination mandate Tuesday, calling for all its physicians, providers and employees be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 29. According to the press release announcing the policy, Ochsner is currently caring for 979 COVID-19 patients. More than 88 percent, 865, are unvaccinated.

Currently, approximately 69 percent of Ochsner Health employees are vaccinated, as opposed to 39 percent of the Louisiana population in general.

According to the daily update from the Louisiana Department of Health, the state saw a decrease in the number of new identified cases, but the decline in hospitalizations that began last week has ended with a slight uptick Monday. 

According to the Tuesday update, the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state rose to 2,856 Monday, up 18 from Sunday’s total of 2,838. 

The state data shows that the number of patients on ventilators remained flat from Sunday to Monday at 480.

More alarming, however, was the uptick in the number of deaths attributed to the disease Tuesday. The state added 139 new deaths to its total, bringing it above 12,000, to 12,116.

In Region 4, which encompasses the Acadiana area, hospitalizations dropped by two Monday, to 387 from 389 Sunday. As with the state's numbers, the region’s ventilator cases remained static at 72.

Region 4’s ICU bed occupancy was at 167 Monday, an increase of one, with eight beds available across the seven-parish area. That put the percentage of occupied ICU beds at 95.4 percent. 

In Region 3, which stretches from St. Mary Parish east to Lafourche and north to St. Charles, 92 of 95 ICU beds were occupied as of Monday. To the west, where Region 5 encompasses the area from Allen, Jefferson Davis and Cameron parishes to the Texas-Louisiana state line, only seven of 84 reported ICU beds were available.

The overall hospital bed occupancy in Region 4 is still high, but not as dire as the ICU occupancy. As of Sunday, the occupancy rate had dropped below 80 percent, but rose to 78.6 percent Monday with 366 of 1,709 beds available.

Iberia Parish had logged 10,888 COVID-19 cases as of Tuesday, an increase of 81 since Monday. The parish COVID-19 death toll rose by three, to 188. In St. Martin Parish, 15 new cases were identified, bringing the total there to 7,469. The number of deaths rose by two, to 131.

In St. Mary Parish, new cases rose to 7,636, an increase of 29, with deaths rising by five, to 180.

The seven-day test positivity rates released last week showed the Teche Area numbers dropping slightly but remaining high. In Iberia Parish, the seven-day positivity rate dropped from 24.6 percent on Aug. 4 to 24.3 percent on Aug. 11, which is slightly more than a 1 percent decrease. In St. Martin Parish, the seven-day average positivity dropped two-thirds of a point over the same period, from 22.6 to 22 percent. St. Mary Parish saw a 10.1 percent decrease, from 17.8 percent to 16 percent.

All three parishes are well beyond the state average, which was at 15.5 percent as of Aug. 11, a decrease from 16.1 percent on Aug. 4. Across Region 4, which encompasses the Acadiana parishes, the overall seven-day positivity rate was down slightly, from 18.7 percent on Aug. 4 to 18.3 percent on Aug. 11.

According to Monday’s LDH update, the number of COVID-19 cases reported rose by 3,814, to 664,618. 

 

Dwayne Fatherree is the community editor for The Daily Iberian. He can be reached at dwayne.fatherree@daily-iberian.com.

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