Coronavirus trends match up with the indicators of Lafayette’s summer surge

Photo by Travis Gauthier
A sign advertising Covid testing during Lafayette's summer surge

The gist: Following a predictable curve, a rapid spike in hospitalizations has followed a doubling in the number of tests coming back positive. Health officials are warning a third surge is imminent. 

Acadiana reported 121 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 Wednesday. That’s a 50% increase over the last week. The region had the third-most Covid hospitalizations, behind only the Shreveport and Monroe areas as of Tuesday. 

Official positivity for Lafayette Parish is above 10%. LDH reports positivity — the number of positive tests — on a lag. The most recent figures reflect the week of Nov. 5 through Nov. 11, and more than doubled the previous positivity report. 

The trends mirror the second surge that saw Acadiana and Lafayette lead the state. Increases in test volume and positivity preceded a dramatic increase in cases in June and July, followed by peak hospitalization of 304 and the deadliest period of the pandemic recorded for Lafayette Parish. Once again, urgent care centers in the area are beginning to see higher test volumes and higher positivity. 

“Based on the July surge, it was a good indicator of future Covid hospitalizations,” Oschner Lafayette General spokeswoman Patricia Parks Thompson says of the testing and positivity trends in the system’s network of urgent care clinics. “It also seems to be the case with what is highly suspected to become a third surge.”

Healthcare workers are beleaguered by months of pandemic ebbs and flows. Staffing remains a big problem, not physical capacity. Hospital reps have pushed back at the suggestion that the medical community has a facilities problem, made flippantly last week by Mayor-President Josh Guillory who has resisted enforcing the state’s current restrictions. 

Anxious. Overwhelmed. Sad. Numb. Local healthcare workers are telling us the predictable rise is taking its toll on them, even with upbeat news about the incoming prospects of a vaccine. With Thanksgiving around the corner, families are making difficult decisions about if and how to gather, echoing anxieties around Easter earlier in the pandemic. 

“Masks are all we have right now, and it is most effective if we all use them,” a frontline worker in healthcare administration wrote to us. “Healthcare providers face burn out and loss of income when we have surges. We are a vital part of the economy in Lafayette and need consideration when people want a thriving economy.” 

Are you a healthcare worker? Tell us how you’re feeling. What would you like Lafayette to know?