Logjam in Commercial Testing Partly Explains Massive Increase in New Confirmed Covid-19 Cases According to Governor Edwards

Credit: Governor’s Live Press Conference

On Thursday, Louisiana reported a significant 42 percent increase in newly confirmed cases (2,726 new cases) over a one day period bringing the total above 9100. However, the Governor also urged caution, noting that the huge spike in new cases did not necessarily represent a growth in the spread of the disease, but rather a logjam in commercial lab testing that has been broken.

Most of the people have been getting tested at commercial labs, and consequently, have to wait a week or so for positive results. Hence, most of the new cases reported today represent positive cases over a number of days that are just now being reported in one day.  Despite this, the Governor still called the numbers “jarring.”

The Governor said that the increases in new hospitalizations, ventilators and fatalities reported provide a more accurate picture. The increase in hospitalizations over the last two days has averaged 10 percent from Tuesday to Wednesday and from Wednesday to Thursday. Although the numbers don’t represent an exponential increase but rather a steady increase, officials maintain that the trajectory is troubling. Current projections from covid19.healthdata.org for instance show that by April 9th, Louisiana could face a shortage in all beds, ICU beds and invasive ventilators.

Louisiana saw the number of new fatalities increase by 37 to a total of 310, with the bulk of new fatalities coming from Orleans Parish.

The Governor also reported Louisiana is second per capita in testing, although officials are frustrated about the backlog with commercial testing as it hinders the ability to make accurate projections.

The Governor also said that if there was anything good about today’s numbers, it’s that the vast majority of the new number of positives do not require hospitalization, and also most of the new positives have already been in isolation over the last week and appear to be on the path to recovery.

Additionally, the need for new ventilators only rose by 3.5 percent, but it’s important to note that one or two days of slight improvement doesn’t represent an accurate picture of what Louisiana expects to see over the next 14 days. Louisiana is expected to continue experiencing an exponential growth in new cases over the next two weeks, when officials believe we may reach the peak of the curve.

National models project the death toll from Covid-19 deaths in Louisiana to reach approximately 1800 with current social-distancing practices in place. Today’s news comes on the heels of a national report that that confirms one million total cases in the United States. The Governor called the crisis Louisiana faces a public health emergency and officially signed an executive order extending the stay at home deadline through April 30th.

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