The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Louisiana continues to rise, reaching levels not seen since the number of patients dropped below 1,000 prior to the state entering its modified Phase 3 restrictions on March 1.
The only problem is that the trend is currently tracking in a near-vertical upward curve, more than tripling since July 1.
According to the state Department of Health, 913 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized as of Wednesday, the highest number of hospitalizations since Feb. 12. That is a rise of 409 new hospitalizations — nearly doubling in a week, from 504 on July 14.
Hospitalizations in Region 4, which encompasses the Acadiana area, are on a similar track. As of Wednesday’s report, there are 129 COVID-19 patients in area hospital beds, the highest number since Feb. 2. That number was at 74 a week ago.
The data on the percent positive of current tests does not bode any better. According to the latest weekly positivity, released Wednesday, the statewide percent positivity is at 8.7 percent as of July 14. That is the highest percent positive rate since mid-January. And, as with the hospitalizations, the Acadiana region is no better. The July 14 percent positivity of COVID-19 tests in Region 4 is at 9.9 percent, which is the highest it has been since the week of Dec. 31-Jan. 6.
In Iberia Parish, that positivity rate rose by three full points in a week — from 8.6 percent on July 7 to 11.6 percent on July 14.
It was the lowest rise among the three Teche Area parishes. St. Mary Parish saw an increase from 9 percent to 13 percent. In St. Martin Parish, it rose four and a half points over the same period, from 9.8 to 14.3 percent.
These leaps are happening as the state continues to lag behind the rest of the nation in completed vaccinations, and the Teche Area parishes fall well below the state’s percent completed vaccination number. St. Martin Parish has the lowest completed vaccination rate of the three, at 29.35 percent. Iberia Parish is slightly better, at 29.39 percent. St. Mary Parish has the highest fully vaccinated percentage of the three, at 29.9 percent.
According to the Mayo Clinic’s vaccination tracker, Louisiana still ranks fifth to last — at 47 — in its percentage of fully vaccinated residents, with only 36.3 percent completed. Of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, only Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas and Wyoming, in that order, have lower percentages of their population fully inoculated.
Louisiana fares worse when comparing the number of single-dose vaccines administered. The only bright spot is that the state has crossed the 40 percent line in that category, at 40.1 percent. But Louisiana still ranks 50th of 51 in that category. Only Mississippi is lower, at 38.1 percent.
According to LDH, 94 percent of COVID-19 cases since early May are among individuals who were not fully vaccinated.
“The data are very clear,” said Dr. Joseph Kanter, Louisiana’s State Health Officer. “COVID-19 cases among unvaccinated people in Louisiana are surging. COVID-19 hospitalizations, percent positivity and COVID-19 outbreaks are all on the rise.”