By KEVIN McGILL Associated Press
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A teenager is among the latest COVID-19 victims to die in Louisiana as officials in the state and nationwide express worries about the increasing number of children affected by the disease.
Louisiana’s health department reported more than 5,100 new probable and confirmed COVID-19 cases Thursday and 72 virus-related deaths. However, hospitalizations statewide continued a downward trend. The latest figure of 2,729 — while still well above the peaks hit in three previous surges — is down from more than 3,000 earlier this month.
Vaccinations in Louisiana are rising as state and local officials seek to increase what has been among the lowest vaccination rates in the nation. Nearly 60,000 doses have been administered since Monday, the health department said. First shots have been given to about 49% of the state’s population. Close to 41% of the population is fully vaccinated.
The death of Patrick Sanders III, 14, of Baker, was confirmed Thursday by the coroner in East Baton Rouge Parish. Sanders, who died Wednesday morning, was a football player at Baker High School, where, Baton Rouge media report, officials went to all-online classes until Sept. 7 because of an outbreak of the disease.
“Every death from this virus is one met with immense sorrow, especially the passing of a ninth grader from our community,” East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome said in a news release.
Sanders’ death came days after the state reported the death of an infant under the age of 1, and as infections are increasingly reported among children in a COVID-19 surge that health officials say is largely driven by the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus. Children under the age of 18 made up about 30% of new confirmed and probable cases reported Thursday in Louisiana.
Also Thursday, Louisiana officials joined those in other states warning against the use of the drug ivermectin to fight COVID-19.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved ivermectin in both people and animals for some parasitic worms and for head lice and skin conditions. It has not approved its use in treating or preventing COVID-19 in humans.