Louisiana puts COVID-19’s fourth wave in rearview as hospitalizations hit record low

Louisiana is all but done with the fourth wave surge of COVID-19 just weeks before the holiday season as this week saw the fewest number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients the state has recorded during the pandemic.

As of Thursday, 226 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 across the state, the lowest figure recorded since Louisiana’s Department of Health began reporting the size of the state’s hospitalized COVID-19 patient census in late March 2020.

The landmark comes as the state has enjoyed several weeks of declining COVID-19 trends this fall as the fourth wave surge of infections and deaths has subsided.

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This week saw new cases bump slightly from last week’s low of 263 a day, which was the slowest rate of case growth the state had seen since mid-June.

This week, Louisiana reported 323 new cases per day across slightly fewer tests than the week before, though that was bolstered by a backlog of 316 cases reported Friday.

Ultimately, the slight bump in trends still kept the state’s preliminary positivity rate below 2% for the third straight week, though that figure differs from the calculations used by LDH.

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The low share of tests coming back positive for the virus suggests the state is holding a tight line against the virus that has been sustained in recent weeks but may be threatened by the coming holiday season as friends and family gather to celebrate.

While recent trends have been positive, the virus’s prevalence still remains “substantial” in many parishes, according to LDH, with seven parishes still experiencing “high” risk of transmission and no parishes yet reaching the “low” risk level of viral prevalence.

But as the fourth wave surge subsides, deaths from COVID-19 have continued to fall in recent weeks, this week dropping to levels not seen since July. Six deaths per day were reported across the state.

This week’s fatalities put Louisiana at 12,727 deaths from COVID-19, though fewer than 400 of those have been reported in the past month.

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As the state’s fourth-wave surge in COVID-19 cases subsides, new vaccinations have fallen off sharply, particularly this week as new inoculations against the virus plummeted 44% from the week before for a total of just 8,342 new shots started as of Thursday.

No other week has seen a lower number of people seek out a COVID-19 vaccine in Louisiana, including the week following Hurricane Ida’s devastating impact on the Bayou and New Orleans regions, which previously held that position.

Roughly 51.2% of the state’s population has started a vaccination, with about 47.2% fully vaccinated.

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This article originally appeared on Lafayette Daily Advertiser: La. puts COVID-19’s fourth wave in past as hospitalizations hit low