State: Infections surging among unvaccinated residents

As Louisiana continues to lag behind the nation in vaccination rates, the state Department of Health is warning residents that COVID-19 infections are surging among the unvaccinated people in the state, especially as the more virulent Delta variant continues to spread.

As of Saturday, Louisiana still ranks fifth to last — at 47 — in its percentage of fully vaccinated residents, with only 36.1 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 state ranks 50th of 51 in that category, with 39.6 percent having received at least one dose. Only Mississippi is lower, at 37.5 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.”

The number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 throughout Louisiana has been increasing for the past 14 days, with 245 additional hospitalized patients added during that time, as of today’s reporting. That is double the number from two weeks ago. The number of cases on Thursday was at 563, on the rise and reaching its highest point since May 2. The numbers in Region 4, which encompasses most of Acadiana and the Teche Area, are not promising. As of Thursday, there were 89 COVID-19 hospitalizations, the highest since Feb. 11.

State officials have emphasized that vaccination is a strong deterrent to the spread of the infection, but that masking is also recommended when social distancing cannot be maintained. On Friday morning, Gov. John Bel Edwards held a press conference addressing the rise of COVID-19 infections in the state. The number of new cases diagnosed each day in Louisiana has been increasing since June 16 and is now increasing in all nine regions of the state. The statewide average daily number of cases per 100,000 residents has increased 177 percent over the past 14 days. Statewide percent positivity of new COVID-19 tests conducted is now 6.3 percent and has been increasing for the past five weeks.

During the past week, 35 new outbreaks and 200 new outbreak-associated cases have been identified. This represents a 169 percent increase in the number of reported outbreaks and a 96 percent increase in the number of outbreak-associated cases compared to the previous week. The settings with the greatest outbreak increases included camps, child day cares, religious services and restaurants. In addition to the widespread circulation of the more transmissible Delta variant, insufficient masking and distancing, especially among unvaccinated individuals, are also contributing to the spread of COVID-19 in these settings.

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

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