The number of people hospitalized with the coronavirus in Louisiana has nearly doubled in the past seven days, according to the state health department, the sharpest weekly increase the state has seen during the pandemic.
The rapid increase in the number of hospitalizations has brought the total number of patients to 449 – of whom about 80% have not been vaccinated – as the highly-contagious Omikron variant is making its way across the state.
The total number of patients is still small compared to the heights reached during the previous waves. But a rare weekend update from the Department of Health shows officials are concerned that the accelerated spread of Omicron could once again strain hospital resources.
The number of hospitalizations increased as new infections climbed dramatically over the holiday weekend. Around 9,550 new cases have been reported in the three days since December 23, which is more than the total number a week ago. This brings the total number of infections for the week to nearly 20,000 – the highest figure since mid-September.
According to the health department, those new cases do not include those who tested positive in home tests. Such tests have become commonplace over the past month as people scramble to find out their status ahead of the holidays and face long lines at community sites and urgent care.
In addition to the new cases, the health department reported around 1,230 people who had once again contracted the coronavirus after being infected earlier in the pandemic. The department does not routinely provide information on the number of people re-infected after recovering from the virus, so it is unclear how those figures compare to earlier waves.
The department said the vaccines will protect against serious illness and hospitalization caused by COVID-19, although it warned that there is a potential for breakthrough infection for those who are vaccinated.
Ahead of New Year’s Eve, the Department of Health urged Louisiana residents to wear masks, work remotely, limit exposure, and get tested before and after travel or gathering.
Anyone with a connection to vaccines is asked to call the Louisiana Vaccine Hotline at (855) 453-0774.
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