Ochsner Health System gave a briefing on Thursday on the 4th surge of COVID-19 in Louisiana.
The briefings are a part of Ochnser's goal of remaining transparent on how they are dealing with the current pandemic.
In their update, Ochsner says that 890 patients across there system are hospitalized with COVID-19. That is a 73 percent increase from last week.
Hospitalizations as expected are 90 percent unvaccinated people most with the Delta variant which is the now the dominant variant of the COVID-19 virus.
"This is a pandemic of the unvaccinated as we see an escalation of the Delta Variant," Warner Thomas, President and CEO of Ochsner said.
A breakdown of the numbers of COVID patients in hospitals is below:
81 Baton Rouge Region
94 Bayou Region
328 New Orleans Region
137 Lafayette Region
64 North Louisiana Region
186 Northshore Region
Further details on patient numbers are below:
The positivity rate of cases is 19.7 percent based on tests Ochsner has done.
They say that they have 7 pediatric COVID patients. They have seen a 24.5 percent posititvty rate for children being tested for COVID. The average age for admitted pediatric patients is 5.7 years.
Ochsner has so far administered 491,000 vaccines in Louisiana. They are anticipating they will exceed 500,000 doses this week.
Ochsner says that 67 percent of employees have received their first doses of the vaccine and 62 percent fully vaccinated. 1,200 employees were vaccinated on the week of August 2.
Those employees who do not wish to be vaccinated must wear and N-95 masks and be tested each week. There is still no mandate for vaccination for Ochsner employees.
Despite 520 employees testing positive and out of work on quarantine as of Wednesday, Thomas says the health system will not change policy until the vaccine comes off the Emergency Use Authorization.
" We heard some rumors that that could be weeks away and not months away but currently, no change."
The number of staff out with COVID is leading to emergency departments being incredibly busy.
Ochsner says with the surge in cases that wait times are longer which is affecting non-COVID patients. "Lots of people are coming in for testing causing long waits."
They say it is leading to the inability to take in transfers as beds become unavailable. "We can't take those transfers."
"We continue to get more staff involved and try to minimize the staff out from COVID," Thomas said. Ochsner says they are searching across the country for workers to staff hospitals, including hiring traveling nurses while increasing benefits for their workers in an effort to retain them.
They say that many of their workers have done this for the 4th time and it is not what they signed up for. Many feel a fatigue after working so long.
"We don't want to lose these folks. We have to balance and motivate people and be mindful about how we handle this with staff."
Warner announced that Ochsner Lafayette General Orthopedic Hospital (Ochsner LG Ortho) is closed for surgery. They are currently redeploying staff to the main Ochsner Lafayette General campus to support the surge.
OLG says that the emergency room at Ochsner LG Ortho WILL REMAIN OPEN.
In other hospitals within the system, they are reporting that surgeries are down 60 percent. Non-emergency surgeries and procedures are being delayed so they can move staff to assist with COVID cases.
"It is a challenging and ongoing situation. There is no end in sight"
They continue to push vaccination of residents.
"It is not too late to get vaccinated. Vaccines protect against the Delta variant."
To find a vaccine location near you visit www.Ochsner.org/vaccine.
The Delta variant is currently the main variant in Louisiana. Officials say that those who have had COVID but not the Delta variant should get the vaccine and not consider themselves "immune"
Ochsner says that their models are showing a continued escalation of cases with no plateau being seen.
On the emergence of the Delta Plus variant, which is the delta with an additional mutation, they say they are concerned. They stress vaccination as the best way to combat Delta Plus which is more contagious than the Delta variant.
Ochsner officials say that right now, masking will help make the difference in the surge. They also continue to urge Louisiana residents who are not vaccinated to get the vaccine
"There are zero people in hospitals with side effects from the vaccine," Thomas said.
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