COVID_Cases in Monroe decreased courtesy of PAR.png

The state Department of Health reported 443 new confirmed cases out of 7,231 tests on Feb. 22.

This brought the three-day positivity rate to 4.2 percent. Case numbers and tests for the past week may be artificially lower than they really are due to lower levels of testing and reporting during the major weather events statewide, according to the Public Affairs Research Council (PAR). PAR examines the state’s COVID-19 data for trends.

All regions, including the statewide trend, as decreasing in the number of COVID-19 positive cases, according to PAR.

PAR is calculating the trend data only using confirmed cases whereas the state combines confirmed cases with probable cases. Confirmed cases are positive molecular tests while probable cases are positive antigen tests.

Antigen tests are growing in usage due to their cost and speed. However, antigen tests are not quite as accurate as molecular tests mainly because they are more likely to result in a false negative for those with no symptoms. Using only confirmed cases is a more conservative estimate.

PAR uses an average of new cases over a three-day period to smooth out irregularities that could be related to reporting inconsistencies. (The state also uses multiple-day averaging.) Then, a statistically derived trendline — in the form of a straight line — is fitted to the data to gauge whether cases are increasing, decreasing or have reached a plateau, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) definition for each.

Only 5.79 percent of Louisianans have received their first dose of the vaccine, and 6.32 percent have received both doses. As of Feb. 22, 87.87 percent of the population remains unvaccinated.

LDH also reports that this week’s shipments of COVID vaccines have been slowed and delayed due to major statewide weather events.

Beginning Feb. 22, Louisiana expanded the vaccine eligibility requirements of Phase 1B, Tier 1 of COVID-19 vaccine administration to include:

• Persons 65 and older

• Dialysis providers and patients

• Ambulatory and outpatient providers and staff

• Professional home care providers (including hospice workers) and home care recipients (including older and younger people with disabilities over the age of 16 who receive community or home-based care, as well as clients of home health agencies)

• Interpreters and Support Service Providers (SSPs) working in community and clinic-based settings, and clients who are both deaf and blind

• Health-related support personnel (lab staff, mortuary staff who have contact with corpses, pharmacy staff)

• Schools of allied health students, residents and staff

• State and local essential COVID emergency response personnel

• Some elections staff of March and April elections

• Teachers and any other support staff working on site in K-12 or daycare

• All pregnant women

• Individuals ages 55-64 with at least one of the conditions listed by the CDC as placing them at an “increased risk of severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19.”

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