Pandemic haunts new year as virus growth outpaces vaccines

Barbara Shields-Johnson, director of Nursing Services at Loretto Hospital, gets her second and final dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Norwegian American Hospital on the West Side, Tuesday morning, Jan. 5, 2021.

SHREVEPORT, La. -- According to the Louisiana Department of Health website, there are 4,454 new COVID cases. Now that the holidays are over, KTBS is taking a closer look at the data. 

Knox Andress, Louisiana Department of Health Region 7 hospital preparedness coordinator, said he's comparing the data since Christmas is over. On Christmas Day, there were 311 COVID-positive cases. Now, nearly two weeks after Christmas, there is an uptick. 

That number is now reaching a record high for the area, with 375 COVID-positive hospitalizations. That is the highest number since the pandemic began in the region.

Mike Sewell, Ochsner-LSU Health Shreveport chief of hospital medicine, said they saw an increase in cases around the second week of December. Although their numbers are steady, they are at the very beginning of seeing a pattern in cases rising from Christmas and New Year. 

Currently, Ochsner has over 50 COVID cases, according to Sewell. Sewell also said that there is an uptick in overall hospital visits during this time, given cold and flu season.

Brian Crawford, Willis-Knighton Health System chief administrative officer, said the hospital hit an all–time high this past weekend with 156 cases. That is more than a 50% increase just over the last month across all four critical care facilities when comparing numbers from Dec. 4 to Jan. 4. He also attributes the uptick to holiday travel and gatherings.

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