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La. Covid hospitalizations are on the rise, but officials say it's not time to panic -- yet

With the holidays here, officials are urging people to take the necessary precautions.

NEW ORLEANS — The third wave of COVID-19 is taking a toll on Louisiana.

COVID-19 Hospitalizations are increasing. It's not as bad as where we were in March, but it's still stretching resources thin. 

On Thursday, the Louisiana Department of Health reported almost 3,000 cases. However, more alarming were the more than 1,600 hospitalizations. That's the highest number reported since May 1.

"We continue to ask our citizens to make proper precautions," said St. Tammany Parish President, Mike Cooper.

Cooper says, like most places, hospitals there are seeing an increase in patients. It's something they're keeping a close eye on.

"We're not near capacity, it's not matter for panic," he said. "It's what we normally do, what our hospital staff and personnel they are equipped to serve our citizens. They are not near capacity, but we want to maintain the level we're at and even reduce that at this time."

ICU beds both nationally and locally are filling up. A recent New York Times article even lets readers see how full the closest ICU's to them are. It uses data averaged from last week, and shows several local hospitals like East Jeff and Slidell Memorial with one or two beds left.

We reached out to verify, and we were told by several it's not quite accurate.

Tulane Health System sent a statement saying: 

"Tulane Health System has experienced an increase in patients needing intensive care, including an increase in COVID patients, over the last several days. Our capacity fluctuates by the day and even the hour, but is certainly strained by this recent increase in COVID patients. We again urge everyone in the region to take precautions – especially wearing masks, social distancing and avoiding gatherings – to help stop the spread of COVID-19.  That said, we are still able to meet our community’s health needs, and we also urge the community not to delay accessing needed healthcare, whether COVID related or not."

Ochsner Health also sent a statement saying: 

"We continue to closely monitor COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations across all Ochsner Health facilities. Our teams are constantly reviewing data and new information, adjusting our plans for bed capacity and monitoring staffing levels. As a larger health system, we have the added capability to transfer patients, resources and staff from one facility to another based on patient need which fluctuates daily. With our Patient Flow Center, we are able to monitor ICU bed capacity at any minute and make adjustments as needed. Combined, these measures ensure Ochsner Health is prepared – both for the needs of today and for potential surges. We are here and ready if you need medical assistance and want to encourage community members to be proactive about seeking healthcare should they need it. As we approach the height of the holiday season and continue to see an increase of COVID-19 cases across the state, this is the time for the community to come together and recommit to social distancing, hand washing and mask utilization. Together, as a community, we have the opportunity and the responsibility to reverse this trend and slow the spread of COVID-19.”