BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana's hospitals, crammed with coronavirus patients and Hurricane Ida-related emergency visits, are starting to see a bit of much-needed relief from the latest surge of COVID-19.
Hospitalizations from the coronavirus illness have been consistently falling over the last three weeks, after breaking records and reaching 3,022 patients in hospital beds with COVID-19 on Aug. 18. By Wednesday, the state health department said that number had fallen to 1,895 hospitalized COVID-19 patients, the first time the number had dropped below 2,000 since the end of July.
Still, public health officials cautioned against too much celebration about the new numbers, as hospitals continue to struggle with staffing issues and are newly slammed with medical needs tied to cleanup and recovery from Ida's destruction.
Gov. John Bel Edwards' office said it's concerned that new cases of COVID-19 are being underreported because of disrupted testing from the hurricane. With group evacuations because of the storm and people focused more on their damage from Ida than COVID-19 precautions, officials worry the spread of the coronavirus illness will worsen.