Doctor: COVID not letting up anytime soon

Published 8:37 pm Tuesday, January 18, 2022

More than 1 million cases of COVID-19 have been documented in Louisiana since the start of the pandemic, and one local health official said the data suggests new case numbers aren’t letting up anytime soon.

The State Department of Health reported Tuesday 29,125 new COVID-19 cases since Jan. 14. The total number of confirmed cases is 1,025,748. There have been 15,195 related deaths statewide.

Dr. Lacey Cavanaugh, director of the Region 5 Office of Public Health, said it’s likely that Louisiana reached the 1 million COVID-19 case number earlier, especially when factoring over-the-counter tests and people who weren’t tested.

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“For me, based on someone who looks at data every day, I’m really not surprised right now that we’ve reached this many infections,” she said. “Every time we think we start to have a grip on COVID, it throws us a curve ball. It seems like it’s ever-changing.”

Gov. John Bel Edwards and State Health Officer Dr. Joseph Kanter both issued statements on the 1 million COVID-19 cases in Louisiana. While individuals who get the Omicron variant are less likely to be hospitalized, both stressed getting vaccinated and a booster shot to stay as protected as possible.

“While we are looking for early signs that this current Omicron surge is letting up, we still have far too many sick people in our state and far too many people in our hospitals with COVID,” the governor said.

Data showed nearly 2,000 new COVID-19 cases in Region 5, which includes Calcasieu, Cameron, Allen, Beauregard and Jeff Davis parishes. Cavanaugh said roughly 100 residents within the region are hospitalized, with 70-80 percent unvaccinated. She said the COVID-19 case numbers in Region 5 remain very high as the Omicron surge continues.

“Where we are now is not sustainable,” she said.

Cavanaugh said the case numbers of the Omicron variant among residents ages 18-29 are beginning to stabilize, while cases among the 5-17 age group are rising. She said this trend is similar to what occurred during the surge of the Delta variant.

“This is probably related to school restarting,” she said.

Cavanaugh said the 1 million mark of COVID-19 cases is sobering, considering the many unknowns during the start of the pandemic in early 2020. She said she understands residents are tired of hearing about the virus, but they should remain vigilant.
“COVID fatigue is very real, but unfortunately (the virus) is still with us, and we’re still having to deal with it,” she said.