La. reports 18th pediatric death due to COVID; health officials warn we aren’t out of the woods yet

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) – The Louisiana Department of Health on Monday reported the death of another child from COVID-19 as the state surpasses more than 14,000 total COVID deaths.

The child, aged between 12 and 17, was the eighteenth pediatric death since the start of the pandemic.

LDH reported 39 new deaths from the virus this weekend.

For many, COVID has faded into the background as they deal with the havoc Ida has wrought in their lives.

“I’m still thinking about it and we’re still taking the precautions we need,” said Megan Mercadel. “With her [daughter] goes to school, I still make sure she wears her mask at school and washes her hands.”

Many parents like Mercadel have a daily reminder.

“I’m anxiously awaiting when the Pfizer vaccine will be available for children as young as five, and we think that will probably be in a month or so,” said Dr. Joseph Kanter. “Once that is the case, families will have the opportunity to protect themselves and protect their children. Until that is the case, children have to rely on the adults around them.”

“I’m leaning toward it,” Mercadel said. “So I’m vaccinated, I wouldn’t be against it. I think I’d just wait and see what happens.”

The infant death rate reported by LDH Monday was the ninth since the start of the Delta wave.

“I don’t want people to get a false sense of security,” Kanter said. “Children usually do very well, no doubt about that, but not absolutely. It still affects families and some children who have died from COVID had serious underlying conditions, but not all. We also let healthy children die.”

dr. Kanter says vaccinations peaked along with the wave’s peak, but have since declined. He’s not happy with where we are.

“Until we get our vaccination rates higher, we will be vulnerable to another wave like this in the future,” Kanter said.

There have been 1,700 new infections since Friday. A quarter of them are younger than 18 years old.

However, it has fallen along with the number of covid cases hospitalized peaking at over 3,000. Now, only 715 patients are in hospitals across the state.

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Kanter says it is still three to four times higher than July, before the Delta wave.

“Even though we’re going in the right direction, that’s better than a few weeks ago because we peaked so high that we still have a long way to go before we get back down,” Kanter said. “We’re not there yet and the risk is still high at the moment.”

Kanter says most parishes are still at the greatest risk of community spread.

“Ida’s death toll stands at 30, which is tragic, having said that we have reported an additional 1,500 COVID deaths since it made landfall,” Kanter said. “To be [COVID] just such a risk, in fact, given the numbers, it’s much more risky, it’s just less visible.”

The governor recently extended the mask mandate. Kanter does have hope that we can get to the level where we don’t need masks, but he wants to see us back to pre-peak levels first.

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