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NELA COVID-19 hospitalizations increase significantly

Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 6:58 PM CDT
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MONROE, La. (KNOE) - As Louisiana residents grapple with the fourth COVID-19 surge, health leaders say the numbers are staggering. One hospital says they’ve seen a 300 percent increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations.

This is our first surge since vaccines have become available. Health officials said they are especially concerned about people who are not vaccinated.

“I would say it’s an emergency. I’d say we’re in another surge,” said Dr. Jackie White, Louisiana Department of Health Region 8 Medical Director.

“More susceptible, it takes less of the virus in your body to become contagious, and when more people have the infection, the ones that are vaccinated have an increased chance of catching it,” she said,

Data shows a younger group of people between 40 and 18 are getting infected. Region 8 accounts for about 6% of cases in the state--and there are small hot spots causing concern.

Health sources say that includes larger areas of Monroe, Minden, jails in Richwood, Madison Parish, and Jackson Parish, and a Madison Parish nursing home.

Mayor Friday Ellis said local hospitals are doing a good job with partnering with the city.

“St. Francis and Oshners has done a really good job with partnering with the city. Offering up our civic center and community center and help with the Army National Guard to get the vaccinations out as much as possible,” Ellis said.

Local hospitals are feeling the uptick’s impact. Health officials say the majority of people admitted to hospitals are unvaccinated.

Inpatient hospitalizations nearly tripled across North Louisiana Ochsner LSU Health System in the past week.

“From Tuesday to Tuesday, we’ve had about a 300 percent increase in hospitalizations. we measure that across our system in the north Louisiana region,” said Dr. Michael O’Neal, Ochsner LSU Monroe Medical Center chief medical officer

St. Francis Medical Center has seen a significant increase, too.

“Yes, over the last two weeks we’ve gone from an average of six to10 patients at any one time in the hospital to over the last 3 days we’ve averaged about 24 patients a day in the hospital,” said Dr. Thomas Gullatt, St. Francis Medical Center’s Chief Medical Officer.

Hospital administrators say a great deal of planning goes into where to place patients.

“The hospital has prepared a large number, I think we have over 100 potential negative pressure rooms, so we have preserved some of our units, our surgical intensive care we kept closed for about 2 weeks in preparation for the fact we thought we would need to put COVID patients in there. we are using that unit this week. there are two units in the hospital as far as ICUs that are dedicated to COVID patients,” said Dr.Gullat.

They say the best plan is preventive care.

“Our main recommendation is for those who are not vaccinated to be vaccinated. continue to wear your mask, continue to use your proper distancing. especially if you have someone that you know has been diagnosed with COVID. we want to maintain those distances as we would have previously,” said Dr. O’Neal.

One good thing is the medical community says there’s a lot of people who are now getting vaccinated.

You can call 2-1-1, walk in or make an appointment at any health department site or contact a local hospital.

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