Some Louisiana hospitals at max amid rise in COVID-19 cases
LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) — Intensive care units in some of Louisiana’s hospitals are filling up after another surge in COVID-19 cases.
In Region 4, which covers Lafayette and the Acadiana area, there are just three beds available out of 156 total, hospital officials said.
Our Lady of Lourdes and Oschner Lafayette General both said they are at maximum capacity in their ICUs, KATC-TV reported. Dr. Henry Kaufman, interim chief medical officer at Our Lady of Lourdes, said during a Friday briefing that OLOL is using regular beds outside of the ICU as a result.
“Part of that reason and why it’s such a high percentage of our 70 patients is we’re seeing enhanced severity of this illness in these individuals who, many of whom, are otherwise completely healthy,” Kaufman explained.
More than 1,000 people are hospitalized across the state with COVID-19 and 162 of those people are on ventilators.
Dr. Amanda Logue, chief medical officer at Ochsner Lafayette General, said the virus’ transmission rate is very high, the television station reported.
“We know that this delta variant is very infectious, contagious,” she said.
Still, Logue said they have not yet needed to use regular beds to augment their ICU beds, but can and will do so if necessary.
“About four weeks ago we had 10 people in our whole health system with COVID and today we have 97, ” Logue said.
Both hospitals say they are seeing an increase in people under 60 with severe COVID symptoms.
“Young individuals ... are coming in a lot faster and a lot more often than what we’ve seen ever before, and I think that speaks to what the delta variant is doing to the community,” Logue said.
Health officials continue to push for the community to get vaccinated. Kaufman said out of the 70 COVID-19 patients at OLOL, only two are vaccinated.
Despite the surge in COVID-19 cases, New Orleans celebrated Saturday with the return of the free Satchmo Summerfest, which last featured the region’s musicians in 2019. The two day event, which celebrates the life and legacy of renowned trumpeter Louis Armstrong, kicked off with a performance by the Roots of Music and iconic pianist Lawrence Cotton, who’s still performing at age 94.
“It was wonderful to see performances online and have a little bit of a reunion digitally, but it’s certainly not the same,” French Quarter Festival, Inc. Chief Executive Officer Emily Madero said at a news conference Friday. “Festivals are deeply embedded in our cultural calendar n New Orleans. It’s how we recognize the seasons, it’s how our mental clocks see the passage of time. They are an important way in which our communities come together. ... We hope that as the nation begins to recover and heal from this last year that we can offer a really wonderful way for people to come back together and ease back into life.”
Madero said the majority of the event is held outdoors and social distancing would be encouraged. For any indoor activities, she said, masks would be required.
In addition, she said COVID protocols are in place for the musicians especially those who use wind instruments. “There will be bell covers, which are essentially a face mask for their horns, provided to keep them and our audiences safe.”
A south Louisiana bishop, meanwhile, is reinstating the obligation to attend in-person Mass on Sundays and other holy days.
Houma-Thibodaux’s Catholic Bishop Shelton Fabre suspended public Masses in March 2020 at the start of the pandemic. Church services were conducted online for about two months before restrictions eased but the dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass in person remained in effect.
Fabre announced last week that the return to public Mass will resume starting the weekend of Aug. 14 and 15, The Courier reported. Masks and face coverings are recommended but not required, church officials said.
Though the obligation to attend public Masses has been reinstated, Fabre said people with compromised immune systems and other health problems are excused.
About 23,000 people attend weekend Masses in the combined 38 church parishes in Terrebonne, Lafourche and Morgan City, figures from the Houma-Thibodaux Diocese show.