Governor: Most COVID-19 reinfections in Louisiana are among unvaccinated

State sets new record for number of children hospitalized from virus

By: - January 13, 2022 11:00 am

Monique Egana, a staff member at Lake Forest Charter School in New Orleans, gets her (Photo courtesy of Mardele Early)

People who have not received a coronavirus vaccine account for the majority of those who have contracted COVID-19 more than once, according to data Gov. John Bel Edwards shared Thursday.

From September through December 2021, 60% percent of reinfections were among the unvaccinated, the governor said. In the past two days, 2,384 reinfections were reported to the state health department.

“You can’t rely on the natural immunity conferred by a previous bout in order to continue to protect you over time,” Edwards said during a press conference at the Capitol.

There have been more than 35,000 COVID-19 reinfections since the start of the pandemic, state health officer Dr. Joseph Kanter said. Louisiana hasn’t counted reinfections as part of its total case count, but those numbers will be included starting next week, Kanter said.

Louisiana also reported 2,081 hospitalizations related to COVID-19. This comes a day after the state set a new record with more than 17,000 cases in a single day.

Another new standard set in Louisiana is for the number of children hospitalized with COVID-19. Edwards said the 92 young patients currently in the hospital exceeds previous numbers.

The omicron variant is the source of the spread, accounting for 95% to 100% of all new COVID-19 cases according to Kanter. In Louisiana, 1,720 people per 100,000 residents are testing positive for the virus, a rate Kanter said  was around 200 two weeks ago.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control label communities at “high risk” for spread if their positivity rate is 100 cases among 100,000.

The governor dispelled the notion among some people that exposing themselves to omicron, for which milder symptoms have been reported, would allow them to overcome COVID-19 sooner and strengthen their immunity. Edwards said just because omicron symptoms are milder, they can still linger indefinitely.

Kanter said hospitals are still seeing very serious outcomes involving omicron patients.

“We’re still putting people on vents and in the ICU,” he said.

Note: A previous version of this article erroneously reported that Louisiana set a new record of COVID-19 hospitalizations with 2,081 on Thursday. Although that number is a new high for the omicron surge, the record set on Aug. 17, 2021, with 3,022 hospitalizations, remains the highest of the pandemic.

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Greg LaRose
Greg LaRose

Greg LaRose has covered news for more than 30 years in Louisiana. Before coming to the Louisiana Illuminator, he was the chief investigative reporter for WDSU-TV in New Orleans. He previously led the government and politics team for The Times-Picayune |, and was editor in chief at New Orleans CityBusiness. Greg's other career stops include Tiger Rag, South Baton Rouge Journal, the Covington News Banner, Louisiana Radio Network and multiple radio stations.