Louisiana sees slight increase in number of hospitalizations for COVID-19

    “That’s something we’re watching very, very carefully,” Edwards says

    Gov. John Bel Edwards
    Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards gives updates on the state's COVID-19 pandemic during a press conference at the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. (Photo by Wes Muller/LA Illuminator).

    The number of Louisianians hospitalized for COVID-19 has crept up from 664 to 667, a slight increase that nevertheless warrants concern, Gov. John Bel Edwards said at a Tuesday afternoon press briefing.  The governor’s press briefing lasted less than 20 minutes, but he covered three major topics:  the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic, Hurricane Sally and its movement toward Mississippi and Alabama and the damage assessments from Hurricane Laura, a Category 4 storm that made landfall in Cameron Parish at the end of August.

    Increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations

    Since a peak of 1,600 hospitalized COVID-19 patients on July 27, the number of people in Louisiana hospitalized has with few exceptions fallen lower and lower. The number of COVID-19 patients in Louisiana hospitals Monday was 664. On Tuesday, it was 667.  

    Though that was a very slight increase, Edwards said his administration is closely monitoring the numbers to make sure they’re not seeing the first evidence of  a spike related to Labor Day weekend activities two weeks ago.

    “We’re hopeful that we don’t see the kind of surge that we saw after Memorial Day,” Edwards said. “That’s something we’re watching very, very carefully.”

    On Sept. 15, there were 426 new positive cases of COVID-19 on 12,659 new tests reported, according to the health department’s COVID-19 dashboard.

    Hurricane Sally shifts east away from New Orleans 

    As Hurricane Sally’s trajectory moves east toward Mississippi, the Greater New Orleans area is no longer on the storm’s projected path. The amount of wind and rain expected in Southeast Louisiana has decreased over the past 48 hours.

    “Every subsequent revision for the forecast has been beneficial to us,” Edwards said. “Of course, not beneficial to our neighbors in Mississippi or Alabama.”

    However, flooding from storm surge remains a concern in the southeastern corner of the state, Edwards said. The Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority is assisting St. Bernard Parish with floodfighting and is working to sandbag Highway 300 while “actively pumping down the canals in the event the highway is overtopped.”

    Grand Isle, in Jefferson Parish, was already seeing a storm surge Tuesday morning.

    Hurricane Laura is one of the costliest storms to ever hit Louisiana’s agriculture and forestry industry

    Edwards said Hurricane Laura has caused more than $1.6 billion of damages to the state’s agriculture and forestry industries. 

    Hurricane Laura caused $525.4 million in damage to Louisiana farmers and $1.1 billion to the Louisiana timber industry, according to preliminary estimates by the LSU AgCenter.

    Laura damaged 757,538 acres of timber from the southwest to northeast parts of the state, Edwards said.