LSU officials monitoring COVID-19 spike; full-capacity football season still planned for fall

COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have spiked again in Louisiana among unvaccinated individuals, and the start of Tiger football is just weeks away.

At this point, LSU has yet to change plans for the upcoming season since announcing in April that all outdoor sporting events would be at full capacity.

LSU athletic officials are watching the situation carefully, listening to information from doctors and government agencies, and will plan for the football season accordingly, says Michael Bonnette, LSU assistant athletic director and communications director.

The same approach is being taken for the university’s campus as a whole, with LSU President William Tate looking at fall semester plans and meeting with medical experts and the school’s COVID-19 response team.

“We currently still have a mask mandate on campus and have our own incentive program for vaccines,” says LSU spokesperson Ernie Ballard. There are also updated policies for students in residence halls on campus, which include isolation protocols for those vaccinated and unvaccinated.

Statewide and local health officials are sounding alarms about the recent increase in coronavirus infections. Hospitalizations in Louisiana had hit a low of 242 in June, the lowest since early 2020 when the state became a hot spot for COVID-19. The number hospitalized today is 779.

The increases are nowhere near the height of previous outbreaks, when more than 2,000 COVID-19 patients in Louisiana were hospitalized at a time and dozens of people died from the disease each day. But health care officials worry that the state is headed in the wrong direction, The Associated Press reports.

Additionally, Louisiana lags nearly every other state in vaccine distribution, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Slightly more than 1.8 million people, 39% of Louisiana’s total population, have received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to state health department data. More than 1.6 million people have been fully immunized, 36% of the population.

This story originally appeared in a July 20 edition of Daily Report. To keep up with Baton Rouge business and politics, subscribe to the free Daily Report e-newsletter here.