NEW ORLEANS — Louisiana’s COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to break records, going up another 135 patients Wednesday.
Statewide, Louisiana has a 15.4% positivity rate for COVID-19 testing, the highest it’s been since April 2020, near the beginning of the pandemic. Every parish is now considered high risk for COVID transmission.
On Wednesday, Aug. 4, The Louisiana Department of Health reported that 2,247 COVID patients were in Louisiana hospitals; 224 of them are on ventilators.
The LDH also reported 4,778 new cases and 44 new deaths, 85% of which were not vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Health experts say the fourth surge is the most dangerous one yet, in part because the rapid growth in hospitalization means fewer ICU and regular hospital beds are available to patients who are not being treated for COVID.
Many of these cases are among younger people as well, a significant change from previous waves.
State data shows that 18 to 29-year-olds are the fastest-growing group contracting COVID-19 and being hospitalized. The delta variant also appears to throw previously-held assumptions about the dangers to young people out the window.
Pediatric hospitals across the state report that they are full of COVID patients, a situation that is sounding alarm bells for already weary hospital staff.
"Our staff is demoralized because they truly believe this surge was preventable if we had all done our part with vaccinations and with masking. Our staff is seeing deaths of young people, we're not accustomed to that," said Michelle Sutton, President and CEO at North Oaks Health System.
Gov. John Bel Edwards statewide mask mandate went into effect this morning. Louisiana residents, regardless of vaccination status, must now wear masks indoors to curb the spread of the delta variant.
State health experts said Monday at the governor's press conference that vaccinated people who contract the delta variant of COVID — known as breakout cases — may be able to spread the infection just as easily as an unvaccinated person.
Louisiana has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country, with just over 41.5% of the state having received at least one COVID vaccine dose. More than 11,000 people have died in the state from COVID since the pandemic began.