LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) — Local hospitals are seeing more COVID patients than they’ve seen in months. The patients in hospitals are getting younger in step with the Delta variant becoming the dominant coronavirus strain.

Data from the Louisiana Department of Health shows 80 people inside Region 4 were hospitalized with COVID-19 at the start of this week. That’s the highest amount since mid-February before phase 3 began and vaccinations were made available to people under the age of 65.

In a news release Tuesday, the Louisiana Department of Health stated, “Settings with the greatest outbreak increases included camps, child day cares, religious services and restaurants.”

Dr. Britni Hebert has seen the effect at Lafayette Internal Medicine Clinic and stated, “The Delta variant is attacking younger people and hospitalizing them twice as much, and it’s clearly stealing lives in Lafayette at an incredible rate.”

At Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center, COVID-19 patients are becoming younger than in the last surge. with more in their 30’s and 40’s. The average age of COVID-19 patients inside Oschner Lafayette General is now about a decade younger than it was in April. It’s near an average of 55-years-old.

“There are 25-year-old’s and 35-year-old healthy people in Lafayette right now laughing and making plans for the beach with their friends, and in six weeks they will be dead.
Today they are missing their opportunity for the only medication that we have that can save lives against COVID and that is the vaccine,” Lafayette Internal Medicine Clinic Dr. Britni Hebert.

The trend of younger COVID hospitalizations correlates with the introduction of the Delta variant. Scientists in China have found the Delta variant can multiply its germs 1,000 times higher than in the original strains, and a UK study found it 50% more contagious than the next most viral strain.

“It’s this huge inflammatory response that your body has to the virus, and it can damage just every organ system that you have, and that scale of damage has always taken an extreme amount to recover from,” Dr. Hebert explained.

She urges the best protection against every variant is a vaccine. Currently, 30% of the Acadiana medical district is vaccinated.