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Gov. Edwards: COVID-19 'more present' in Louisiana than ever before

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BATON ROUGE - After the initial surge of COVID-19 throughout Louisiana in the spring, cases and hospitalizations are steadily rising once again.

"We have lost all the gains made in June," Gov. John Bel Edwards said Wednesday during his weekly virus briefing. "We are now seeing some numbers that rival our peak back in April."

Edwards says the large daily increases being seen now are no longer being driven by specific hot spots, as was the case earlier this year with the greater New Orleans region, but are now more evenly spread across the state.

"We have a statewide epidemic," Edwards said. "It's no longer one region or two regions out of the nine that are really driving our case growth and our hospitalizations."

While some numbers and data points are beginning to trend similarly to growth during the first surge, health officials and experts say it's not necessarily the same.

"Even as we see more and more people hospitalized due to COVID-19, these people don't necessarily need ventilators," Dr. Susanne Straif-Bourgeois, an epidemiology professor with the LSU Health System said. "We really don't know if that's because we have better treatments available or we might have younger people."

Similarly, Edwards also says while hospitalizations are rising like they did earlier this year, it appears the makeup of those patients has changed.

"On average [hospitalized patients are] a little younger," Edwards said. "The illnesses on average aren't quite as acute. The stays in the hospital are not quite as long, and a smaller percentage of these individuals are in ICU beds or on ventilators."

As Louisiana surpassed the 70,000 case mark Wednesday, the state health department reported 46,334 patients 'presumed recovered.' That leaves roughly 25,000 'active' cases, according to Dr. Alex Billioux of LDH. He says with that amount of virus present across the state, the chances of contracting it has increased.

"There is a higher chance of being exposed to COVID, whether I'm going to a bar, a restaurant, a gym, whatever," Billioux said. "If there are 25,000 cases circulating out there, that we know of, the likelihood of any of those settings being less safe is higher."


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