By Greg LaRose, Louisiana Illuminator
An increase in the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations prompted state health officials Thursday to declare that Louisiana is in its sixth surge of the COVID-19 pandemic.
State health officer Dr. Joseph Kanter reported 5,436 new cases, 567 hospitalizations and two deaths from the novel coronavirus. The actual number of cases is likely much higher because an increasing number of people are testing at home, he said.
“We don’t need to count every raindrop to know that it’s pouring,” Kanter told reporters.
In the past week, Louisiana’s COVID-19 test positivity rate has increased from 19.6% to 23.7%, according to the health department’s latest data.
Hospitalizations have doubled in Louisiana over the past month, but Kanter stressed they are nowhere close to the thousands from past COVID-19 surges.
Kanter also said, on average, people who contract the COVID virus are not getting as sick when compared with earlier surges. Subvariants of omicron strain are “less virulent and less damaging” than previous strains, he said.
According to Kanter, about 95% of Louisiana residents have either had COVID-19, been vaccinated against the virus or both. He attributed the milder symptoms in the current surge to this statistic.
People with co-morbidities and compromised immune systems still remain at high risk for the worst outcomes, Kanter said.