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COVID-19 trends worry health experts, holiday impact not yet clear

“It’s is concerning, there’s no doubt about it,” said Dr. Julio Figueroa, chief of Infectious Diseases at LSU Health.

NEW ORLEANS — Every parish across Louisiana is in the red, considered to be the highest risk by the state department of health. Current COVID numbers highlight the reason why.  It’s something medical leaders warned about.

“It’s is concerning, there’s no doubt about it,” said Dr. Julio Figueroa, chief of Infectious Diseases at LSU Health.

Coming off the Thanksgiving Holiday, numbers from the state health department show this third COVID surge not letting up.  

“I’ve been seeing a good number of admissions in the hospitals over the last week or so related to what happened toward the end of November, beginning of December,” said Figueroa.

As of Wednesday, 1,675 Louisianans are in the hospital because of COVID. That’s the highest number since the peak of the first surge back on April 13th. Figueroa says right now medical care is under control but depending on what happens during the Christmas and New Year Holidays, things could change.

“We don’t want to get in the situation as is in other parts of the country where you don’t have hospital beds, you don’t have ICU beds, you don’t have personnel to take care of those folks,” said Figueroa.

Wednesday’s seven-day average number of deaths stands at about 41. That’s this highest average since May 4th. The peak was back on April 18th at 65.

In New Orleans, the city is urging folks to take extreme caution, warning about the possible closure of bars and breweries next week. That’ll happen if the positivity rate stays above five percent. The mayor calls the extended holiday season the city’s “most critical time period.”

“We’re having a lot of cases in Orleans Parish. That means that we have a lot of folks who are asymptomatic running around in addition to the symptomatic ones we’re identifying,” said Figueroa.   

With cold weather expected to force Christmas celebrations inside, Figueroa worries about community spread.

“Given that, we need to make sure that you do it as safely as possible with as few people as possible,” said Figueroa.

Figueroa says folks should not develop a false sense of security simply because a vaccine is available, because it’s going to take time before it’s available to everyone.   

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