ACA.covidlocal.01.072721

Jennifer Potier receives her first dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine from lead pharmacy technician Marissa Newell on Friday, July 16, 2021, at Neighbors Pharmacy in Lafayette.

Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center and Ochsner Lafayette General have activated their surge plans to accommodate a dramatic increase in COVID-positive hospitalizations in recent weeks caused primarily by the new, more easily transmitted delta variant infecting unvaccinated people.

"We've seen about a 425% increase in COVID hospitalizations in the last three weeks," Patricia Thompson, spokesperson for Ochsner Lafayette General, said Monday. "The numbers are growing at a pretty alarming rate."

Both hospitals recently announced they were limiting visitors because of the surge. As of Monday, despite Our Lady of the Lake in Baton Rouge restricting surgeries, neither Lafayette hospital has officially followed suit.

So far, Thompson said, the hospital has the staff and space to accommodate the surge in COVID hospitalizations, unfortunately because this is the fourth time staff have been through a surge and updated its plan.

Ochsner Lafayette General is not requiring staff to be vaccinated at this time, she said.

Our Lady of Lourdes is evaluating its next steps as COVID hospitalizations increase and approach the peak seen during the third wave, Elisabeth Arnold, assistant vice president of marketing and communication, said Monday.

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Asked if the hospital would limit surgeries or require hospital staff to get vaccinated, Arnold replied, "In this fourth wave, we are experiencing a steep increase of hospitalized COVID patients, teetering on the next level of our surge plan. We are currently evaluating all next steps.”

A month ago, Arnold said, Our Lady of Lourdes was seeing single-digit COVID hospitalizations. Monday morning, there were 57 hospitalizations, including 12 in intensive care. 

Most of those hospitalized are younger, unvaccinated and without other health conditions, a change from the early months of COVID when the elderly and those with other health problems were most vulnerable to the virus.

The age group most affected by COVID to date is the 18-29 year-old group, with 109,287 cases reported since the beginning of the pandemic in Louisiana, according to the Louisiana Department of Health. The 30-39 year-old group has seen 85,560 cases, 40-49 year-old have seen 75,541 cases and 5-17 year-old have had 57,544 cases.

Data collected Saturday and released Monday by the Louisiana Department of Health showed 133 new cases of COVID in the Acadiana region for a total of 187 cases, including 160 hospitalizations and 15 on ventillators.

Statewide, there were 1,221 hospitalizations due to COVID reported Monday, including 113 on ventillators, 7,592 new cases and 14 new deaths.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Louisiana Department of Health has reported 10,914 deaths attributed to COVID and 520,435 cases, more than the population of New Orleans.


Email Claire Taylor at ctaylor@theadvocate.com.