Does A ‘COVID Spike’ Mean Anything In Louisiana Anymore?
Even though most of the citizens in the United States have rightfully moved on from the COVID-19 pandemic, there are still some hardcore folks holding on. They're the ones you see driving around wearing masks still.
Look at places like China, Australia, and Japan, where they attempted "COVID Zero" policies, and have perpetual lockdowns destroying their local economies. Not to mention the damage being done to schools and children.
But for most people, COVID is in the rearview mirror. However those who can't let go of their COVID lockdown dreams are trying to bring as many restrictions back as they can. Schools in Kentucky and California are requiring masks still, regardless of vaccine status in most cases. Which is pretty wild. Fully vaccinated students and staff still having to mask almost 3 years into the pandemic. While people are shoulder to shoulder in WalMart (which we have been the whole time) and no mass panic taking place, schools are still going to be impacted. Even with research showing a huge divide in the performance of students in states with short-lived COVID restrictions vs long-term restrictions.
Hospitals in Louisiana are bringing back some of their COVID restrictions now too. But why? Is there a big spike in COVID in Louisiana? Depends on what metric you follow, the new ones, or the old ones.
See, long ago, medical leaders started telling us to stop paying attention to daily COVID case counts as vaccines made their way into the public. At that point, the impact of the vaccines could be seen with breakthrough cases. The wall of immunity that was facilitated through vaccines (and natural immunity) decoupled the case counts from hospitalizations and deaths. Which was pretty much the goal.
So once immunity toned down fatal outcomes of the virus, counting cases really didn't matter anymore. Because they weren't a "leading indicator" post-vaccine. That means, don't count cases...its meaningless.
The metrics to watch are hospitalizations and deaths. But even within those metrics, you really need to see age demographics to get a real picture.
So far, we haven't even included the fact that there are now therapeutics to treat COVID after you're diagnosed. Which has fundamentally changed what case counts mean across our country.
With all of that to consider, what does Louisiana look like right now? Should hospitals be changing things? Should anyone be looking at the numbers in a deep way? Based on what we're seeing reported...not really.
The case numbers in the state started moving up a couple weeks ago. At this point, they've peaked, and look like they're making their way back down. According to data from the Louisiana Department of Health, there were over 3,000 confirmed cases on July 11th in the state. Over 1,600 confirmed cases on two separate days that week. That took the rolling 7-day average of cases over 1,500 per day for most of that week. Since then, the rolling average has been dropping, now its just over 1,100 per day on the rolling average.
So if there was a "spike" in cases, it appears to be over already. But did that lead to anything worrisome in hospitalizations or deaths? Depends on your level of worry. Since April 2022, the state of Louisiana has been averaging 1-5 deaths where COVID was involved daily. Even with this "spike" that's happening, the rolling average remains under 4 per day. Staying on the same trend as before. Previously, during "spikes" in Louisiana, the daily numbers were between 25-50 deaths per day, on average.
Hospitalizations have increased over the last couple weeks in Louisiana, but nowhere near the rates that the state saw during the 5 previous "spikes" in cases. We also don't have a firm picture on whether or not these people are hospitalized BECAUSE of COVID, or hospitalized, and happen to have COVID at the same time. As we learned before, LARGE numbers of those reported as being hospitalized on COVID counts weren't there for COVID. Many were hospitalized for injuries, or surgeries, and ended up testing positive while in the hospital. Which is still likely the case, without having any massive overhauls to our counting metrics.
Looking really closely to Caddo Parish, the Parish has averaged less than 1 COVID death per day since March 21, 2022. Which hasn't changed now. In fact, the Parish has gone for weeks between COVID deaths. Currently, the rolling 7-day average for deaths in Caddo Parish is 0.29 per day.
Across the state of Louisiana, like the United States as a whole, counting COVID cases on a daily basis doesn't do anything but scare you. Really there's nothing anyone, especially those in power, should do until COVID death numbers reach the numbers we've seen before. Which is highly unlikely with our current deployment of vaccines and therapeutics.