Surge in Delta variant observed statewide

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 21, 2021

BATON ROUGE — In the first week of July, St. John the Baptist Parish recorded an increase of 39.13% in COVID-19 incidence and a 66.67% increase in the positivity rate over the prior week. COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths have continued to surge throughout the month not only in the River Parishes, but statewide.

Governor John Bel Edwards called upon all Louisianans to take action to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the state by getting their vaccine if they have not yet done so or by helping their family, friends and neighbors get the shot. Between February and July of 2021, unvaccinated people in Louisiana were 20 times more likely to become ill with COVID-19.

“If you have not taken one of the COVID-19 vaccines and you’re 12 or older, it’s time to run, not walk, to one of the more than 1,400 locations where they are readily available all across the state of Louisiana,” Gov. Edwards said. “The Delta variant of COVID is now the dominant strain in Louisiana and without the protection that the safe and effective vaccines offer, you are far more likely to become ill with COVID in Louisiana. Our hospitals are again stretched thin with limited staff capacity, and the vast majority of COVID patients are not yet fully vaccinated against the illness.”

“COVID-19 cases are surging among the unvaccinated in Louisiana. It’s not one outbreak; it’s not one region. This is a statewide problem,” said Dr. Joseph Kanter, state health officer. “And because our statewide vaccination rate is too low, everyone is at elevated risk and should take precautions immediately for the safety of themselves and their families.”

LDH reaffirms the following guidance for individuals in Louisiana:

  • If you are not yet fully vaccinated you should mask and distance in public settings and particularly indoors, for your safety and for the safety of those around you.
  • If you are fully vaccinatedyou have very good, but not absolute protection. Your risk, while relatively small, will increase as the amount of COVID-19 circulating in your community increases. Masking and distancing particularly when indoors will increase your safety should you desire extra protection.
  • If you are at increased risk for complicationsof COVID-19 by virtue of advanced age or underlying medical condition or have a member of your household family unit who is, LDH strongly recommends you consider masking and distancing when indoors and/or in close proximity to others for added protection.

Facts about the Delta Variant

Having had COVID-19 before does not offer protection against the Delta variant, which is much more contagious and is now the dominant strain in Louisiana and the country. Getting any one of the three vaccines, however, has proven to be effective against COVID-19 in general and the Delta variant specifically.

As a result of the current pace of vaccinations and the spread of the more contagious Delta variant, Louisiana’s COVID-19 trends continue to worsen:

  • The number of new cases diagnosed each day in Louisiana has been increasing since June 16 and is now increasing in all nine regions of the state. Gov. Edwards reported last week that the statewide average daily number of cases per 100,000 residents increased 177% from July 2-16.
  • The number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 throughout Louisiana has been increasing. The number doubled from July 2-16 with 245 additional hospitalized patients added during that time, as of today’s reporting.
  • Statewide percent positivity of new COVID-19 tests conducted is now 6.3% and has been increasing for the past five weeks.
  • From July 7-14, 35 new outbreaks and 200 new outbreak-associated cases were identified. This represents a 169% increase in the number of reported outbreaks and a 96% increase in the number of outbreak-associated cases compared to the previous week. The settings with the greatest outbreak increases included camps, child day cares, religious services and restaurants. In addition to the widespread circulation of the more transmissible Delta variant, insufficient masking and distancing, especially among unvaccinated individuals, are also contributing to the spread of COVID-19 in these settings.

So far, more than 184 million Americans – including more than 1.8 million Louisianans – have taken at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccines.

The CDC says 99.2% of all COVID-19 deaths are in unvaccinated people, meaning the available vaccines are very effective against the current COVID-19 variants, including Delta, which is the dominant strain in Louisiana.

HOW TO GET A COVID VACCINE

Everyone aged 12 and older is eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in Louisiana. The following vaccination clinics are being held this week in the River Parishes:

  • John – 4 to 6 p.m. July 23, 200 REGALA Park Road in Reserve
  • James – 4 to 6 p.m. July 27, 29170 Health Unit St. in Vacherie

The FDA has only authorized one of the three COVID-19 vaccines – Pfizer – for children ages 12 to 17. Parents should confirm with the vaccine provider that their child is under 18 to ensure Pfizer vaccine is available before making an appointment.

  • COVID-19 vaccines are widely available at 1,437 locations in all of Louisiana’s 64 parishes, including at pharmacies, hospitals, health care clinics and doctor’s offices.
  • For a list of locations, visit LDH’s vaccine directoryor visit gov,which is maintained by the federal government.
  • To get a list of vaccine locations near you text your ZIP code to GETVAX (438829) in English, or VACUNA (822862) in Spanish.
  • If you have questions, would like to speak with a medical professional, or need help scheduling an appointment, call Louisiana’s vaccine hotline at 1-855-453-0774.