The number of people hospitalized with the coronavirus in Louisiana has nearly doubled over the last seven days, the fastest weekly increase the state has seen over the course of the pandemic, according to the state Department of Health.
The rapid rise in hospitalizations has brought the total number of patients to 449 — about 80% of whom are unvaccinated — as the highly-transmissible omicron variant is making its way across the state.
The total number of patients is still low compared to the heights that figure had reached during prior waves. But the rare weekend update from the health department shows officials are growing increasingly concerned that the quick spread of omicron may once again strain hospital resources.
The surge in hospitalizations comes as new infections climbed dramatically over the holiday weekend. Nearly 9,550 new cases have been reported in the three days since Dec. 23, more than the entire amount tallied for the week before. That brings the total number of infections for the week to nearly 20,000 — the highest that figure has been since mid-September.
Those new case numbers do not include people who tested positive on at-home tests, according to the Department of Health. Such tests have become increasing common over the past month as people have scrambled to find out their status ahead of the holidays and have encountered long lines at community sites and urgent cares.
In addition to the new cases, the Department of Health reported about 1,230 people who had once again come down with the coronavirus after being infected earlier in the pandemic. The department does not regularly provide information on the number of those reinfected after recovering from the virus, so it is unclear how those figures compare to earlier waves.
The department said vaccines will protect against severe illness and hospitalization caused by COVID-19, though it warned breakthrough infections are likely for those vaccinated.
Ahead of New Year’s Eve, the Department of Health urged Louisiana residents to wear masks, work remotely, limit exposure and get tested before and after traveling or gathering.
Anyone with questions regarding vaccines is asked to call Louisiana’s vaccine hotline at (855) 453-0774.
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