NEW ORLEANS — Louisiana reported a sixth child has died from COVID complications in this fourth wave of coronavirus.
The child, said to be between 5 and 11 years of age, is the 15th child to die from COVID complications since the inception of the pandemic in March 2020.
Because the child was younger than 12, he or she was not eligible for a COVID vaccination.
"For the sixth time since this fourth COVID surge began, we mourn the loss of a child. Every life lost is a tragedy," said Dr. Joseph Kanter, State Health Officer. "Our young children who are not eligible to get the vaccine rely on us to protect them, and the best way we can do that is to get the vaccine and wear a mask."
COVID cases in Louisiana appeared to be down from their August peak, after a dramatic drop in hospitalizations that started shortly before Hurricane Ida.
Friday, the state reported 2,182 new cases and 52 additional deaths related to the virus.
Both are higher than Thursday's totals: 1,663 new cases and 48 additional deaths. But the general trend has been lower than in previous weeks.
On August 17, for example, there were 3,691 new cases and 122 deaths reported by the Louisiana Department of Health.
It's unclear if this shift is because the pandemic's fourth wave has finally broken, or if other priorities such as rebuilding after Hurricane Ida.
In total, 725,637 cases of COVID-19 have been reported to the state and 13,418 people have died of Covid-related causes since the pandemic began last March.
What isn't in doubt is that hospitalizations have dropped dramatically. On Aug. 19, there were 3,013 people hospitalized across the state with COVID-19. But on Friday, that number was down to 1,367.
Because the number of hospitalizations began free-falling right before Ida struck, observers thought the change could be attributed to an attempt by hospitals to discharge patients with lesser diagnoses ahead of an anticipated surge of storm-related patients.
But in the weeks since the storm, that trend has continued, even as reporting picked up across much of the state.
And the state is starting to approach the two-week incubation period that COVID cases tend to average, meaning that if cases were going to rise because of congregate sheltering and other storm-related dangers, it would likely either be visible in the data already or will become visible soon.
Instead, there may be some good news out of St. Bernard Parish. For weeks, the state has been a sea of red on the LDH coronavirus risk map, meaning that every parish in Louisiana was considered the highest possible risk for community transmission.
As of Friday, that is no longer the case. St. Bernard Parish was downgraded this week from "Highest" to "high" risk of COVID-19 transmission. In that parish, percent positivity is just below the 10% benchmark health experts use to indicate the rapid infection of a virus.