NEW ORLEANS — Sunday's update from the Louisiana Department of Health marked a grim milestone for the state: more than 7,000 people have died from the coronavirus since the pandemic began in March.
Over the 10 months since then, 7,042 people have died from either COVID-19 or complications caused by the disease. There were 48 new deaths since Friday.
Also as of Sunday, 286,145 cases of coronavirus have been either confirmed or are suspected in the state.
Spikes in case numbers and hospitalizations throughout the state have prompted fears of a "third wave" during the winter months as Louisianans stay indoors more and run heaters that can spread the virus.
More than 1,500 people were listed as hospitalized with coronavirus Sunday, rivaling the state's peak in the spring. But ventilator use, a metric that raised concerns about sick patients overwhelming the state's hospitals, hasn't risen quite so dramatically, with better treatments keeping more people off of assisted breathing devices.
The pandemic's lifespan is also in a much different place than it was earlier in the year. Earlier this month, the first doses of a coronavirus vaccine arrived in Louisiana, and distribution has begun. A second vaccine candidate is also on its way after clearing the FDA's final approval last week.
But according to LDH, even with the vaccine and an end to the coronavirus outbreak on the horizon, every parish in the state is still listed as being in severe danger of a coronavirus outbreak.
In New Orleans, officials held off on tightening restrictions because of a plateauing of data in the city.
But in nearby Jefferson Parish, leaders warned of a possible spike after Christmas because of the traveling and gift-giving associated with the season.
Any holiday spike would likely show up several weeks later because of a lag in when the virus develops enough to register on a test or for a patient to show symptoms.