The omicron-fueled, fifth-wave surge of COVID-19 hospitalizations might have already peaked at Ochsner facilities in Louisiana, according to the health system’s leadership.
“We continue to see a lot of cases with the omicron variant. We have seen a decline over the past couple of weeks,” CEO Warner Thomas said Monday. “If you go back to Jan. 11, that’s when it looks like our system hit the peak.”
“The peaks are different based upon which market you’re in. It does appear as though that Jan. 11 was around the peak for the New Orleans area. It does look like the Northshore’s a similar situation,” he added. “As you get into Baton Rouge, Lafayette, North Louisiana, it does seem like there’s probably a one- to two-week delay in the peak there.”
As of Monday, Ochsner facilities had 644 COVID-19 patients around the state, down from 726 two weeks ago, Thomas said. Statewide, hospitalizations leveled off last week after two weeks of stunning increases in the number of people being hospitalized with COVID-19.
As of Sunday, 2,127 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized around Louisiana, up from 2,075 the week before and 1,700 two weeks ago.
Ochsner’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Robert Hart said he was optimistic that the situation is improving, even for parts of the state that lag the New Orleans area’s peak.
“I would hope to see that it might start going down there because they did lag behind the New Orleans area with their positivity. And as their numbers began to rise they were at least a week behind,” Hart said.
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Who's being hospitalized?
Hospitalizations during the omicron surge have heavily leaned toward unvaccinated people, who make up about 64% of Ochsner’s COVID-19 patients.
Another 30% are vaccinated but not boosted, while about 6% have gotten a booster shot as well, though Ochsner’s Medical Director of Hospital Quality Dr. Sandra Kemmerly said those breakthrough hospitalizations generally happen to older, less healthy patients.
“Among the people that are boosted and admitted to the hospital, generally they are older, they have other underlying health conditions that put them at risk for more severe disease,” Kemmerly said.
“We're not seeing boosted individuals that are young and healthy in our hospitals and in our ICUs. It's the older, sicker people that wind up needing hospital care.”
What's coming next?
While the omicron may be waning, the upcoming Mardi Gras season threatens to undo any progress Louisiana makes against COVID-19 between now and then.
“Between the vaccinated and those that have gotten omicron, with almost 40% positivity (in previous weeks), there's a lot of our population that has now been exposed,” Hart said. “And that's a bad thing, but on the other hand, we hope that will give some protection as we go into the Mardi Gras season.”
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This article originally appeared on Lafayette Daily Advertiser: Omicron surge shows signs of peak at Ochsner facilities in Louisiana