Louisiana officials were celebrating the news last week that the number of Louisianians hospitalized with COVID-19 in had dipped to the lowest level since near the beginning of the devastating worldwide pandemic. To illustrate how much things had changed, an administrator for LCMC Health tweeted Wednesday that Touro Infirmary in New Orleans was “COVID free for the first time since the pandemic started.”
But as good as the downward trend in Louisiana’s COVID-19 numbers has been, that trend doesn’t mean that people aren’t still being infected, developing serious complications and dying. The continuing deadliness of the virus was made apparent Monday when state officials released a statement making note of the state reaching and exceeding 10,000 COVID-19 fatalities.
The official number of Louisiana’s COVID-19 fatalities Monday at noon was 10,030.
Courtney Phillips, secretary for the Louisiana Department of Health, put the total in perspective in a statement: “Any loss of life is tragic, but a loss this large is stunning,” she wrote. “For context, that means we have lost more residents to COVID-19 than accidents, chronic lower respiratory disease, stroke and Alzheimer’s combined which were the third, fourth, fifth and sixth leading causes of death in 2017. It would’ve been the second leading cause of death that year, behind only heart disease. Said another way, we’ve lost more residents to COVID than the population sizes of 85% of Louisiana’s towns, cities and villages.”
Joe Kanter, the state’s public health officer described the vaccine as “our exit ramp from this pandemic,” and Gov. John Bel Edwards made a similar point when he mentioned the growing number of people who’ve gotten at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine.
“Today is a grim milestone for our state as more than 10,000 Louisianans have now died from COVID-19, marking a year of sadness and loss, as so many families and friends are missing their loved ones. We must pray for them and their families and do everything we can to prevent the spread of this terrible illness,” Gov. Edwards said. “While the COVID-19 pandemic is not over, in the midst of darkness, there is hope – more than one million people in Louisiana have now started the vaccination process.”