More COVID-19 in Louisiana now than ever before, state health officials say

Omicron could soon peak, but far more virus is present than at Delta apex

By: - January 20, 2022 5:14 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,

The amount of COVID-19 in Louisiana is higher now than it ever has been at any point in the pandemic, state officials said during Gov. John Bel Edwards’ press conference Thursday afternoon.

Louisiana will be at elevated levels of COVID-19 cases, percent positive test results and hospitalizations “for quite a while,” Edwards said.

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“The risk of being exposed, the risk of contracting, the risk of bringing COVID home to your family is as high – if not, higher – than at any point prior,” State Health Officer Dr. Joe Kanter said.

It’s likely that the latest COVID-19 surge, caused by the fast-spreading Omicron variant, will soon peak and start to plateau, Kanter said. 

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“Once you’ve peaked and are coming down from the other side, you’re still awfully darn high,” he added. 

For Jan. 20, the state report 2,367 Louisianians hospitalized for COVID-19, about 14,700 new cases and 37 deaths. From Jan. 6 to Jan. 12, Louisiana recorded a 27.5% COVID-19 positivity rate for COVID-19 tests.

State officials said those numbers are “an undercount” because many people are testing positive at home, and those cases are often not reported to the health department.

The Louisiana Department of Health also started tracking reinfections in their statewide COVID-19 case counts. So far, the department’s reported 47,342 cases of COVID-19 among people who contracted the virus a second time more than 60 days after their initial infection.

Overall, 66% of COVID-19 reinfections and 83% of deaths related to COVID-19 reinfections happened to Louisianians who were not fully vaccinated, Edwards said.

The record COVID-19 numbers have had a huge impact on K-12 schools coming back from the holiday break as well, according to the governor. 

Even though several schools began their semesters virtually, about 8,700 K-12 students and 1,719 faculty and staff contradicted COVID-19 over the past week, Edwards said. The Louisiana Department of Education reported more than 51,000 students had to go to virtual learning since coming back after the holiday break.

About 200 Louisiana children have been hospitalized for COVID since the beginning of the year, the largest share younger than 5, Kanter said, an age group that has yet to be cleared to receive COVID-19 vaccine.

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JC Canicosa
JC Canicosa

JC Canicosa is an award-winning journalist at The Louisiana Illuminator. Canicosa has previous experience at Investigate-TV and The Loyola Maroon and earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Loyola University New Orleans. At Loyola, he was the senior staff writer at The Maroon and the president of the school's chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Off the clock, Canicosa enjoys playing basketball, watching movies and dabbling in comedy writing.

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