Gov. John Bel Edwards (Wes Muller/Louisiana Illuminator).
Louisiana appears to have peaked in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, and is now on a downward trajectory, the state’s chief medical officer said Thursday.
But Dr. Joe Kanter warned at a press conference that the decrease could be short lived. He said “there’s no guarantee we continue this downward trajectory” because thousands remain displaced after Hurricane Ida struck Southeast Louisiana late last month.
Louisiana peaked Aug. 17, when 3,022 patients were hospitalized due of COVID-19, Kanter said, but has seen a 40 percent decrease since Gov. John Bel Edwards instituted a second mask mandate in the beginning of August. As of Sept. 8, there are 1,825 patients hospitalized.
All 64 parishes are still listed as high risk for COVID-19 spread, as the statewide percent positivity rate sits at 11.3 percent. “The COVID threat remains as real as it ever has,” Kanter said.
About 2.3 million Louisianians have gotten at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot, and 42 percent of Louisianians are fully vaccinated, including over 50 percent of Louisianians eligible for the vaccine, Edwards said. The COVID-19 vaccine is available to anyone 12 years or older.
“The (vaccination rate) numbers are improving,” Edwards said. “But we have a very long way to go.”
The state is also facing a second threat in the wake of the catastrophic Ida, which made landfall Aug. 29.
Louisiana has seen five confirmed cases of West Nile Virus, which can be fatal or lead to permanent disability, since Ida made landfall, Kanter said. The virus is spread by mosquitoes and usually becomes more common after storms.
Kanter encouraged Louisianians to wear long sleeves or bug repellant when mosquitoes are out. He also asked residents to avoid standing water, where mosquitoes breed.
“Take a moment every few days to go around your property and overturn any standing water,” he said. “It can be as little as a bottle cap.”
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