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La. COVID-19 hospitalizations highest since April

Updated: Dec. 29, 2020 at 9:15 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Right now, Louisiana state health officials say they’re seeing the most COVID-19 hospitalizations across the state since April.

The most recent reports show 1,689 patients across the state, 218 of them are on ventilators.

”Although folks might not realize it, in terms of COVID, it’s actually is the most dangerous point in the whole pandemic for Louisiana right now,” Dr. Joseph Kanter with the Louisiana Health Department said.

With hospitalizations surpassing the summer peak, Kanter says there’s three reasons why he’s concerned: the unknown impact of the holidays, there’s more circulation of the virus than ever before, and that hospitals are already busy.

”In the greater New Orleans area we topped out at just over 300 hospitalized patients today and we haven’t been that high since early May, when we were coming down from our first surge,” Kanter said. “So, these really are historic numbers for us.”

In New Orleans, 67 percent of the area’s beds are in use.

Ochsner reports 388 COVID-19 patients in their hospitals across the state, which is much lower than their peak in the spring, but still, Ochsner says it’s trending in the wrong direction.

Dr. Jeffrey Elder with LCMC says their system is seeing 125 patients, 10 percent more patients than they did during the July peak.

”We are nowhere near where we were in March and April, which is a good thing, but our numbers have continued to go up and so that is, you know, concerning,” Elder said.

However, Elder says another piece of good news is that a patient’s length of stay has gone down about 50 percent at LCMC.

”We’ve become more accustomed to dealing with it,” Elder said. “We’ve targeted our approach to how we treat these patients, and we’re able to do things hopefully that can get them hopefully out of the hospital faster than what we did in March and April.”

Both Elder and Kanter want to keep patients out of hospitals in the first place, which is a difficult goal when the TSA reports the past week and a half had more than a million people passing through airports each day. Both officials also pointed out, even small family gatherings carry a high risk of spread.

”They still have to mask, they still have to socially distance and even having a negative test right before you go visit family isn’t 100 percent and it doesn’t necessarily protect you from someone who then gets symptomatic a day or two later,” Elder said.

As we inch towards New Year’s Eve, Kanter wants Louisianans to play it safe.

”Be happy and optimistic about the vaccine,” Kanter said. “Same goes for entering 2021, but take as many precautions as you can right now because it really is a perilous time in Louisiana, even if that’s not readily apparent.”

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