BATON ROUGE, La. (KTAL/WGNO) – Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said Wednesday there is more COVID-19 in Louisiana than ever before.
Edwards made the assertion during a briefing Wednesday afternoon on the state’s response to COVID-19 as the number of cases reported in a single day and hospitalizations statewide surpass the all-time highs reached at the peak of the pandemic in April.
The Louisiana Department of Health reported 6,882 new COVID-19 cases statewide and 46 more deaths Wednesday, bringing the cumulative number of confirmed and probable cases reported in the state to 333,524 and deaths to 7,681.
“Today’s update does NOT contain a backlog of cases,” the LDH said in a Facebook post on the latest data. “This is the highest number of daily cases reported to date in Louisiana that does not contain a backlog nor two days of reporting. The previous highest number of cases reported was 6,754 new cases on December 30.”
Of the new cases reported, the LDH says 4,098 are confirmed and 2,784 are probable.
Edwards has said positivity rates and hospitalizations are critical factors in deciding how to move forward with restrictions under emergency orders to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Louisiana remains under revised Phase 2 restrictions after stepping back from Phase 3 restrictions in November. The Governor’s current proclamation expires a week from today. Ultimately, Edwards said people need to mask up and continue doing what data shows works.
For now, Edwards said, he will not add any new restrictions. He maintains we cannot enforce our way out of this, but warns behavior must change to get the state’s case count under control. As numbers continue to surge, Edwards made clear he is fed up with people not following mitigation measures like wearing a mask.
“Quite frankly, they’re not that damn onerus, put a mask on,” Edwards said.
He believes people owe it to their families and healthcare workers, even if they’re not worried about their own protection from the virus.
“This is the issue for me as Governor right now. The status quo is unacceptable and if I’m unable to articulate that to the people of Louisiana sufficiently, I apologize if my command of the English language is not good enough to communicate that sufficiently. We have to do better,” Edwards said.
While there is hope that vaccines will slow the spread, Doctor Joseph Kanter said at this point, not enough people have been innoculated.
“The vaccine work is important and essential, but right now, in order to stop having to report 40, 50, 60 lives a day, that’s mitigation measures,” Dr. Kanter said.
The latest LDH data also shows the number of hospitalizations ticked up by 19 to 1,993 as of Tuesday. The new all-time high is two more than the 1,991 reached at the height of the first surge back on April 12. Of those hospitalized across the state, 207 are now on ventilators.
Hospitalizations in Northwest Louisiana passed the previous all-time high of 299 in early December and have continued to rise to new heights daily since Christmas, reaching 374 as of Tuesday. Of those, 25 patients are on ventilators.
Louisiana remains on a trajectory of increased cases and hospitalizations. The big concern is the impact is still unknown from the holidays.
“We’re not imminent to resorting to crisis care, but clearly if we stay on this path, that will happen,” Edwards said.
Also according to the LDH Wednesday:
- Because of the daily removal of newly identified duplicates and out of state cases, the new case increase may not match the difference between today’s and yesterday’s total case count.
- The collection dates for most of these cases (96.4%) fall between December 28 and January 5, 2020.
- 99% of the cases reported to the state today were community spread.
- 1% of the cases reported to the state today were in congregate settings.
- Individuals between the ages of 18 and 29 (19%) and between the ages of 30 and 39 (15%) account for 34% of these cases.
- Since yesterday, 36,873 new tests have been reported to the state, bringing the total number of tests to 4,537,096. Of the tests reported today, 24,503 were PCR tests and 12,370 were antigen tests.
Of the 676 new confirmed and probable cases reported in Northwest Louisiana Wednesday, 224 were in Caddo Parish.
Bossier Parish reported 158 new cases and two more deaths, bringing the total deaths in the parish from COVID-19 to 203. Natchitoches Parish reported 106 new cases and one new death. Webster reported 66 new cases, De Soto 40 and one new death, Sabine 39 new cases and one new death, Bienvill 24 new cases and two new deaths, Claiborne 16 new cases, and Red River three new cases.
There are now 41,615 COVID-19 cases reported in Region 7 and 1,076 deaths.