State Watch

Louisiana hospitals reach capacity as COVID-19 cases surge

Louisiana hospitals are running out of ICU beds as COVID-19 cases surge in the state.

Our Lady of Lourdes and Oschner Lafayette General hospitals have run out of ICU beds. Our Lady of Lourdes has resorted to converting regular beds outside of the ICU to deal with the virus, KATC ABC 3 reported.

"Part of that reason and why it's such a high percentage of our 70 patients is we're seeing enhanced severity of this illness in these individuals who, many of whom, are otherwise completely healthy," Dr. Henry Kaufman, interim chief medical officer at Our Lady of Lourdes, said at a press briefing.

There are three beds open out of 156 in Region 4 of the state, with more than 1,000 people hospitalized across Louisiana due to the virus, according to the outlet.

"About four weeks ago we had ten people in our whole health system with COVID and today we have 97, " Chief Medical Officer at Ochsner Lafayette General Amanda Logue said.

There are a total of 162 people on ventilators from the coronavirus in the state.

"The transmission is very high. We know that this Delta variant is very infectious, contagious ... I've heard reports of one person being able to infect up to five to eight people if they are around them unprotected. That is incredibly high numbers and continues to only make the spread that much faster," Logue said.

Both hospitals said there has been an increase in patients below the age of 60.

News of the hospitalizations come amid increased concern among federal health officials regarding the delta variant. The strain, first identified in India, has become the dominant variant in the U.S. Public Health officials have observed the strain can penetrate the vaccine, though they say that the vaccine continues to offer protection against severe illness and death. 

It is the spread of this strain that also prompted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) this week to issue new guidance, advising vaccinated officials wear masks indoors in areas where coronavirus is surging. 

Louisiana has a low vaccination rate with only 36 percent of the population fully vaccinated against the virus, according to data from John Hopkins University.

Overall, there have been more than 541,000 reported cases of the virus and almost 11,000 deaths.

The state is one of many to see an increase in cases and hospitalizations from the delta variant.

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