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Omicron in Louisiana: Single-day record high reported for number of positive COVID cases

A Tulane University coronavirus test site.
Paula Burch-Celentano
Tulane University
A Tulane University coronavirus test site.

Louisiana marked a new record high for daily COVID-19 cases reported to the state on Thursday, with 14,007 new cases reported.

The previous daily record high came one week ago, with 12,647 cases reported on Dec. 30, largely due to the holiday season and the newest variant, omicron, which was spreading rapidly in the state. The previous record high prompted Gov. John Bel Edwards to urge residents to stay at home for New Year’s Eve, despite the return of holiday festivities that went on as planned.

Hospitalizations also rose to 1,412, up from around 200 in mid-December, in a spike that includes children and mirrors the fast-rising hospitalizations of the summer surge.

Children’s Hospital New Orleans has seen a seven-fold increase in patients in just two weeks. A total of 21 children were hospitalized as of Tuesday, compared to just three a few weeks ago, according to Dr. Mark Kline, the hospital’s physician-in-chief.

At Our Lady of the Lake Children's Hospital in Baton Rouge, eight children were admitted to the hospital overnight for COVID-19 on Saturday into Sunday morning. That’s the greatest number of children the hospital has admitted at one time since the beginning of the pandemic.

Officials said it’s too soon to tell how severe the omicron surge, which has seen mostly more mild symptoms in adult patients, particularly those who are vaccinated, will be for kids. But they said all of the pediatric patients have been unvaccinated.

The largest share of new cases reported on Thursday were among younger adults and children. Those ages 18 to 29 accounted for 20% of new cases; children ages 5 to 17 made up 17% of cases, as did adults in their thirties.

The state also reported 12 deaths, bringing the total to 15,038 victims. Louisiana surpassed 15,000 deaths from COVID-19 on Monday.

Data from the Louisiana Department of Health show that unvaccinated people still represent the majority of cases, hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19, but to a lesser degree than during earlier phases of the pandemic.

Unvaccinated people (those who haven’t received two doses) accounted for 66% cases from Dec. 23 to Dec. 29, 74% of deaths over the same period, and make up 76% of current hospitalizations in Louisiana.

The uptick in cases and hospitalizations has been met with a low supply of COVID-19 tests, particularly rapid tests. Before the holidays, health officials urged residents to get tested before and after their vacations, and COVID tests have become a recommendation or even requirement for unvaccinated and vaccinated individuals alike to travel, go back to school and other activities.

To find testing resources in your parish, click here. For the latest data on COVID-19 in Louisiana, click here.

Rosemary Westwood is the public and reproductive health reporter for WWNO/WRKF. She was previously a freelance writer specializing in gender and reproductive rights, a radio producer, columnist, magazine writer and podcast host.
Katelyn Umholtz is the digital editor for WWNO and WRKF and is based out of New Orleans.

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