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Louisiana Hospitalizations Up, Omnicron BA-5 Variant To Blame

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Courtesy: ldh.org
The Louisiana Department of Health Covid-19 information dashboard reveals Covid-19 hospitalizations are trending up in Shreveport-Bossier.

BA-5 VARIANT IN NW LA – According to recent data, there’s been about a 20% increase in patients admitted to intensive care units in Louisiana hospitals over the past few weeks AND it appears the recent Omicron BA.5 variant of the Corona virus is to blame. But does this newer mutation mean a higher risk for hospitalization for anyone who gets infected? During a recent appearance on RED RIVER RADIO’s call-in program “Health Matters”, Pediatric Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Joseph Bocchini, with Willis-Knighton Health System explained that while the new variant is more contagious than previous variants, people who may wind up hospitalized are those with underlying health issues.

“The patients being admitted to the hospital are very similar to what we saw in the past in that they have underlying conditions that make them more susceptible to progression of disease, more severe disease, and then hospitalization,” Bocchini said.

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Dr. Joseph Bocchini is Pediatric Infectious Disease Specialist with Willis-Knighton Health System in Northwest Louisiana

Those underlying conditions include obesity, diabetes, pulmonary illness and weakened immune systems, and these conditions can become intensified among the elderly. Dr. Bocchini pointed out that Covid vaccines along with boosters and newer treatments have greatly reduced severe covid illness. But he does caution people to be aware that even newer, more severe mutations could easily occur and said that the coronavirus is still a deadly disease.

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Courtesy: ldh.org
Covid-19 infections remain high for most Louisiana parishes.

“We’re better off than we were in the beginning because we now have treatments, we understand how better to treat this virus but we still have a virus that’s dangerous, that’s much more severe than influenza, and is still taking lives,” Bocchini said.

Bocchini said that about 300 people die in the U.S. each day from Covid which is more deaths than even in a bad influenza season. A newer vaccine to address the Omnicron BA.5 variant of coronavirus is expected to roll out sometime in September. And health experts agree that getting a Covid vaccine helps prevent severe illness even death.

Chuck Smith brings more than 30 years' broadcast and media experience to Red River Radio. He began his career as a radio news reporter and transitioned to television journalism and newsmagazine production. Chuck studied mass communications at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia and motion picture / television production at the University of California at Los Angeles. He has also taught writing for television at York Technical College in Rock Hill, South Carolina and video / film production at Centenary College of Louisiana, Shreveport.