NEW ORLEANS — More than 5,300 new cases of coronavirus have been reported in Louisiana since yesterday, one of the highest single-day jumps in 2021.
The Louisiana Department of Health reported 5,388 new cases of the virus on Wednesday, which Gov. John Bel Edwards said was the third-highest daily case count since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.
"Numbers like this are avoidable, and we should be doing better," Edwards said on Wednesday.
The last time the state has reported a higher number of new cases was on Jan. 6 when LDH reported 6,882 cases amid the height of the third wave of cases.
"This is the fourth surge of COVID-19 in Louisiana," Christina Stephens, a spokesperson for Gov. Edwards' office said. "To see such a high increase right now, when vaccines are readily available all across Louisiana, is incredibly disheartening."
Stephens said that people younger than 50 make up 76 percent of all new COVID-19 cases in Louisiana, and 17 percent of the new cases are in children younger than 17.
She added that the two regions with the biggest share of Wednesday's new cases are Baton Rouge (24%) and the Northshore (21%).
The LDH reported 13 new deaths from the virus, bringing the total number of deaths from COVID-19 in the state to 10,874.
All of Louisiana and much of the state are now classified as being in the highest category for community risk, which means there is widespread, uncontrolled transmission with many undetected cases.
The sharp increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations is attributed to the highly contagious delta variant, which is the dominant strain of COVID-19 in Louisiana and much of the United States.
As of Wednesday, there were 844 COVID-19 positive patients hospitalized across the state - more than three times the total recorded at the start of the month.
The rise in hospitalizations in some regions - including on the Northshore - mirror the meteoric increase seen at the start of the pandemic in March 2020.
In Louisiana, fewer than 2 million of the state's eligible residents have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, despite multiple vaccines being available for free. In New Orleans, which has one of the highest vaccination rates in the state, health leaders fear the delta variant is encroaching from other parishes with lagging vaccination rates.
On Tuesday, a spokesperson for Mayor LaToya Cantrell said that the mayor was seriously considering enacting new mask restrictions in the city. Cantrell is expected to speak at a news conference on Wednesday about the possible new restrictions.