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Louisiana is Almost Out of ICU Beds in 4th COVID Wave; See Cases, Hospitalizations, More

A vaccinator administers a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. March 4, 2021.
Phoebe Jones
A vaccinator administers a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. March 4, 2021.

Due to the current surge of cases of the delta variant of COVID-19, Louisiana is dangerously low on intensive care unit beds, according to the latest data on COVID-19 from the state’s health department.

Five of the state’s nine public health regions have less than 10 percent of their total ICU beds available. Region 4, which encompasses Evangeline, Acadia, Lafayette, St. Martin, St. Landry, Iberia and Vermilion Parishes, has just one ICU bed. Neighboring Regions 3 and 5 have just five and two ICU beds respectively. None of the regions have more than 20 percent of their ICU beds available.

Louisiana Department of Health

The bulk of hospitalizations — 91 percent — are of people who have not been fully vaccinated. Unvaccinated residents make up 80 percent of COVID-19 related deaths and 89 percent of all cases between Aug. 5 and Aug. 11. Statewide, 3,022 people were hospitalized due to the coronavirus, a number that has soared in recent weeks past hospitalization rates from the first three waves of the pandemic.

The number of cases in children aged 5 to 17 has skyrocketed. The age group accounts for 5,788 cases of COVID-19 in Louisiana between Aug. 5 and Aug. 11. From Wednesday’s LDH data, Gov. John Bel Edwards’ office said children represent 28 percent of new COVID cases.

The news of the drastic uptick in children’s cases of COVID-19 comes the same day the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) was supposed to discuss whether the state’s mask mandate should apply to schools. However, the meeting was adjourned before a decision could be reached due to an unruly, unmasked crowd.

Louisiana’s Attorney General Jeff Landry issued a legal opinion earlier this month that said BESE, not Gov. John Bel Edwards, has the authority to decide whether masks be worn inside public schools.

Late July, health officials said pediatric hospitals were filling up due to the more contagious delta variant. The quick rise in all virus cases signaled Edwards to reinstate a mask mandate, including in schools.

On Wednesday, COVID-19 cases had jumped to 6,606. Health officials said there were 87 new coronavirus-related deaths in just one day.

For more information on Louisiana COVID-19 data, click here.

Bobbi-Jeanne Misick is the justice, race and equity reporter for the Gulf States Newsroom, a collaboration between NPR, WWNO in New Orleans, WBHM in Birmingham, Alabama and MPB-Mississippi Public Broadcasting in Jackson. She is also an Ida B. Wells Fellow with Type Investigations at Type Media Center.
Aubri Juhasz covers K-12 education, focusing on charter schools, education funding, and other statewide issues. She also helps edit the station’s audio stories.

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