By David Jacobs | The Center Square
Bars, food processing plants and industrial settings are among the settings where contracting COVID-19 is most likely, according to Louisiana Department of Health statistics.
As of Wednesday, officials had traced 36 outbreaks and 393 cases to bars, while 11 outbreaks and 423 cases have been traced back to food processing facilities. Industrial settings are tied to 16 outbreaks and 117 cases, while restaurants (16 and 68) and colleges and universities (three and 84) also are common sites to contract the disease.
The actual numbers probably are higher than the reported numbers because the state’s contact tracers can’t reach everyone and people can’t always remember where they were on a daily basis, said Dr. Alex Billioux with the state Office of Public Health.
During the early stages of the pandemic, Louisiana was second in the nation in COVID-19 cases per capita, driven largely by rapid case growth and increases in hospitalizations in the New Orleans area. The state fell to 10th, but now is back up to fifth, and the cases now are spread throughout the state to a much greater degree, Gov. John Bel Edwards said Wednesday.
“We have had three weeks now of going in the wrong direction,” he said. “To put it bluntly, COVID-19 is probably more present, more rampant in Louisiana today than it has ever been.”
The Baton Rouge area is one of three “hot spots” in the nation where the federal government is helping to implement a temporary “surge” in testing, Edwards said. Four new testing stations opened in the area this week.
While the number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals ticked down slightly on Wednesday, 1,022 people were hospitalized as of noon, which is almost double the number from mid-June. Hospital leaders report they are starting to run low on remdesivir, a drug that has shown promise in treating COVID-19 patients, Edwards said.
However, possibly because the patients are on average younger in recent weeks, fewer are becoming acutely ill, needing ventilators and long hospital stays, officials said.
Edwards continued to stress the need for everyone to wear a face covering in public while saying he still isn’t contemplating a statewide mandate to do so. Orleans Parish, Jefferson Parish, East Baton Rouge Parish and Shreveport have issued local mandates.
As of noon Wednesday, at least 3,251 Louisiana residents had died of COVID-19, the state health department reported. The state had more than 70,000 confirmed positive cases, and more than 46,000 of those patients were believed to have recovered.