Concerning amount of COVID-19 cases in Louisiana schools, children

First week of school sees 2,444 cases of COVID-19 among students, staff

By: - August 20, 2021 4:31 pm
doctor examines child

About 600 of the nearly 1,900 Louisiana K-12 schools take part in the state’s free COVID-19 testing program,

With children back in school, COVID-19 cases among K-12 students and staff members are worryingly high, Gov. John Bel Edwards said during a Friday press conference. 

From Aug. 9 to Aug. 15, the first week of the school year, 2,444 COVID-19 cases were reported among students and staff. More cases were reported during this week than any other week of the last school year. 

According to Edwards, in two weeks Louisiana schools reported 5,328 cases among students and 750 cases among staff members. He reiterated the need for proper COVID-19 safety measures in schools, particularly the importance of wearing masks, though he said he was confident that most schools were following the mask mandate. 

“It would be an absolute recipe for disaster to take kids from all across the state of Louisiana, put them together for seven hours a day in close proximity to one another indoors, unmasked, and then send them back in the community at the end of the day,” Edwards said. “That is exactly what you don’t do in a public health emergency like the one we currently have.” 

In higher education institutions across the state, the recently launched Shot for $100 program seems to be encouraging vaccination. Around 36 institutions, including LSU and University of Louisiana-Lafayette are participating in the program, which offers $100 Visa cards to the first 75,000 college students who get vaccinated. Since the program launched Monday, 518 cards have been given out. 

The latest data from the Louisiana Department of Health shows 5,922 new COVID-19 cases across the state, with 67 new deaths and 2,999 COVID-19 patients currently hospitalized. Friday marks a slight decrease in percent positivity statewide, which is now at 15.5%. 

In the past week, there have been 1,700 new COVID-19 cases in those ages 0-4, and 5,700 new cases in those ages 5-17. Respective percent positivity rates for these demographics are currently at 17.5% and 28%. 

“There’s no doubt at all with the data we have right now, that younger individuals, even as young as infants, are getting COVID and are spreading COVID, particularly to their families,” State Health Official Dr. Joseph Kanter said. 

Kanter said a third booster shot is in the works, possibly coming in the next three to four weeks. 

The booster would be given to people who took the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. 

However, the booster shot needs to go through FDA consideration and CDC recommendations before it can be made available. Kanter is confident that the state would be able to distribute the booster shot successfully. 

“We have plenty of vaccine in Louisiana, we have a very large vaccine provider network, we have the machinery, the apparatus in place to be able to do this, and we’re just waiting for those two things to happen,” Kanter said. 

Edwards said Louisianians needed to start examining the facts for their children, if not for themselves. 

“It appears to me that we’re going to all have to make adjustments in order to live with COVID for some extended period of time. And those who refuse to make the adjustments might just die of Covid and cause other people to die because of Covid,” Edwards said. “It really is that simple.”

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Rachel Mipro
Rachel Mipro

Rachel Mipro is a contributing reporter to the Illuminator. She has previous experience at WBRZ and The Reveille and earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Louisiana State University. At LSU, she worked as an opinion editor for The Reveille and as a nonfiction editor for the university’s creative writing journal. In her free time, she enjoys baking, Netflix and hiking.