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For the first time since more than a month, the Louisiana Department of Health is recording a drop in the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations statewide.

According to the LDH update Thursday, the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state dropped to 3,013 Wednesday, down nine from Tuesday’s total of 3,022. On July 11, the last time the state saw a daily decrease, the number of hospitalizations was at 410. 

The daily reported number of hospitalizations had increased continuously until today.

Unfortunately, the state also reported 476 patients on ventilators as of Wednesday, an increase of 28 from Tuesday. That is the highest that total has been since April 10, 2020, when there were 479 people on ventilators during the first wave of the pandemic.

Ventilator use in the state peaked on April 4, 2020, with 571 patients on the machines.

Hospitalizations in Region 4 dropped by three Wednesday, to 406. The region also added eight new ventilator cases, bringing that total to 67, the highest recorded in the region during the pandemic.

Region 4’s ICU bed occupancy was at 165 Wednesday, with five beds available across the seven-parish area. That put the percentage of occupied ICU beds at 97 percent, largely due to new beds that can be staffed after a U.S. Navy emergency medical team arrived at Ochsner Lafayette General Medical Center Wednesday. 

In Region 3, which stretches from St. Mary Parish east to Lafourche and north to St. Charles, 89 of 96 ICU beds were occupied as of Wednesday. To the west, where Region 5 encompasses the area from Allen, Jefferson Davis and Cameron parishes to the Texas-Louisiana state line, only two of 81 ICU beds were available.

The ICU occupancy in southwest Louisiana is at a crisis level, but although not as dire the overall hospital bed occupancy in Region 4 is still high. As of Wednesday, the occupancy rate remained above 80 percent, landing at 81.7 percent with only 316 of 1,728 beds available.

Statewide, 89 percent of new infections and 80 percent of deaths between Aug. 4 and Aug. 11 and 91 percent of the state’s current hospitalizations were among unvaccinated patients. 

Iberia Parish had logged 10,465 COVID-19 cases as of Thursday, an increase of 129 since Wednesday. The parish COVID-19 death toll rose by three, to 182. In St. Martin Parish, 55 new cases were identified, bringing the total there to 7,320. The number of deaths rose by one, to 127.

In St. Mary Parish, new cases rose to 7,417, an increase of 66, with deaths rising by three, to 170.

The seven-day test positivity rates released Wednesday 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.

The seven-day percent positivity numbers released Wednesday cover the first full week Gov. John Bel Edwards’ reinstated mask mandate, which was instituted on Aug. 1. Those figures are released one week after the week in which the data is collected.

According to Thursday’s LDH update, the number of COVID-19 cases reported rose by 5,550, to 643,993. The state reported 58 new deaths. 

On the vaccine front, the Biden administration announced Wednesday that it will make “booster shots” available for those people already vaccinated starting on Sept. 20. Those shots should be administered eight months after the patient’s second initial shot, or their first if they had the Johnson and Johnson one-shot vaccine.

Overall, Louisiana is still fifth from the bottom of the list of states in its percentage of population fully vaccinated. According to the Mayo Clinics, the state has fully vaccinated only 38.8 percent of its population, although 47.2 percent of the population has now had at least one dose of a vaccine.

Only Alabama, Mississippi, Wyoming and Idaho have lower vaccination rates. Louisiana is seventh with regard to one-dose patients, with the previous four states plus West Virginia and North Dakota showing lower numbers.


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

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