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Registered nurse Raven Hulin administers a coronavirus vaccine to Robert Johnson, a nurse in the intensive care unit at Ochsner Lafayette General.

Acadiana coronavirus infections spread as fast as ever in the first week of 2021, with the percentages of tests resulting in new cases at all-time highs. But the state’s daily reports over the subsequent week were more encouraging, with new cases increasing at similar rates as new tests.

Hospitalizations appear to have stabilized for now, with the first week-over-week declines reported this week since Dec. 28.

More than 13% of Region 4 tests resulted in new cases over seven-day periods ending on Jan. 4, Jan. 5 and Jan. 6, exceeding the previous high mark by a full percentage point. That is according to the weekly “date of test” report, which allocates test results to the dates that tests were taken. The weekly reports are published on a seven-day lag, so it will not be known until Jan. 20 if the case-to-test ratio continued to rise.

But the daily reports — which publish test results as the state receives them from labs — point to a possible plateau in the second week of January, albeit a very high one. Newly reported cases declined 10% over the week ending Jan. 13, while newly reported tests increased by 10%.

That is the widest gap between new test growth and new case growth in nearly a month. It follows several days of comparable changes in rolling weekly case and test counts. In the previous week, new cases were growing at triple and quadruple the rates of new tests.

Still, the weekly Acadiana caseload in the seven-parish region remains above 2,000, a watermark that is comparable with other critical outbreak points in the summer and late fall. While COVID-19 hospitalizations have stalled in the low 200s for several days, that too is a historically high mark.

By way of comparison, on Oct. 13 — three months ago, during a slower period of the pandemic in Acadiana — there were 286 new cases reported over seven days, and local hospitals counted 50 COVID-19 inpatients.


Email Ben Myers at bmyers@theadvocate.com. Follow Ben Myers on Twitter, @blevimyers.