Louisiana surpasses 2,500 COVID-19 deaths, 67% are over the age of 70

WWL Newsroom
May 22, 2020 - 7:18 am
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Louisiana has surpassed 25-hundred COVID-19 deaths as the state reported 21 more fatalities Thursday bringing the death toll to 2,506. LSU Infectious Diseases expert Doctor Catherine O’ Neal says we could see an increase in the death rate in the next couple of weeks, because of COVID outbreaks in nursing homes.

“Now we’re seeing that 70-plus age range gets infected as the pandemic has made its way into the nursing homes, so that death curve may go up, even as our hospitalizations go down,” said O’Neal.

The number of people hospitalized by COVID-19 dropped again Thursday and it now stands at 884.

State health officials report that 67-percent of the people listed as a COVID-19 death were over the age of 70. O’Neal says that’s why it’s critical to slow the spread of the virus in nursing homes.

“We have strike teams, we go out into the nursing homes and we say this how you do infection control, this is how you separate your patients, who is really sick, who has the virus but isn’t, who needs to come to the hospitals,” said O’Neal.

O’Neal estimates that it will be early spring before a successful vaccine can be mass-produced. She says that will help protect the vulnerable population, but there will still be a risk.

“So if you think about the flu, we have a vaccine that we give out every year and we have Tamiflu until we have both for coronavirus, I think we are going to continue to treat this a little different than a seasonal virus,” said O’Neal.

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