Dr. Joseph Kanter, chief health officer, said Tuesday morning he thinks the state will have to consider more aggressive mitigation measures if the rise in coronavirus cases does not slow in the next week or two.
Kanter made his comments in a COVID-19 update to the Louisiana Board of Regents, which held a special meeting to sign off on anti-sexual harassment policies on campuses.
He said that, until Monday night, Louisiana was the national leader in new cases of the viruses until it was overtaken by Florida.
"The number are really just shocking," he told regents.
Kanter said the positivity rate for COVID-19 cases is 15.4%, the highest since April of 2020.
He said state health officials will announce Tuesday that hospitalizations total 2,720, which is 650-700 more patients than the previous high during the winter surge of the virus.
Kanter said the lack of needed staff at hospitals makes for "a real dire situation" and non-emergency procedures are being delayed even though that may carry consequences for patients later.
He also said he cannot say when the rate of cases will peak.
Kanter said data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show Louisiana is only one-fourth of the way toward its peak in the fourth surge of the virus but that other data is less dire.
"I will say if we don't peak within a week or two it is going to be a catastrophic situation for hospitals," he said. "There is just no way to sustain that."
"I would expect more aggressive mitigation measures to be considered if we do not peak within the one or two week timeframe," Kanter said.
Gov. John Bel Edwards on Aug. 2 said he was re-imposing a mandatory indoor face mask mandate until at least Sept. 1.
Other mitigation measures that could be considered include renewed restrictions on restaurants, bars and other sites.