Ochsner Health Announces COVID-19 Jefferson, Orleans Parish Prevalence Study Findings

Ochsner Health announced key findings from a COVID-19 seroprevalence study, conducted in Jefferson and Orleans Parishes in mid-May. The study, which tested more than 2,500 Jefferson and Orleans Parish residents for COVID-19 and antibodies, provides valuable insights about the true spread of the virus in our community.

Key Findings:

-7.8% of Jefferson and Orleans Parish residents have been exposed to COVID-19.

-Based on a 7.8% prevalence rate, it is presumed that more than 64,000 Jefferson and Orleans Parish residents have been infected.

-The calculated COVID-19 infection fatality rate is 1.63%, which is 10 to 40 times more deadly than the seasonal flu (fatality rate 0.04%-0.16%).

-Infection rates were higher among black residents (10.3%) than white residents (5.9%), but fatality rates of 1.72% and 1.58%, respectively, were not significantly different.

-75% of infectious people were asymptomatic and 40% of people never experience symptoms.

What the Study Tells Us:

-Continued safety measures, including adherence to social distancing and wearing masks in public, are essential as we move forward to limit further spread.

-The death rate is higher than the seasonal flu but lower than state deaths divided by confirmed cases would suggest.

-Virus spread in Jefferson and Orleans Parishes does not indicate that we are near herd immunity, which would occur with an exposure rate of approximately 70%.

“Data collected in this study tells us that the actions of our state and local leaders to limit the spread of COVID-19 during the height of the outbreak in the spring were effective and necessary,” said Dr. Robert Hart, chief medical officer, Ochsner Health. “The collective efforts of our leaders, businesses and neighbors have saved lives. As we learn more about this virus and now start to see an increase in community spread as we begin to reopen around the state, Ochsner remains committed to investing in testing and research to protect and care for our community.”

A total of 2,640 adults were tested, selected from a pool of over 25,000 volunteers. Study participants represented all zip codes, ages, races, and ethnicities of Jefferson and Orleans Parishes to accurately reflect the region. Upon arrival at a designated test site, participants completed a questionnaire and received two tests – a nasopharyngeal swab to test for COVID-19 and a blood draw to test for antibodies.

The study was led by Principal Investigator Amy Feehan, PhD, and funded by Ochsner Health. Ochsner researchers worked with Public Democracy and ReNOLA to recruit community members for the study. Ochsner will conduct a second phase of testing this summer to continue monitoring the local spread. Community members interested in participating are encouraged to sign up at testnola.org. 

Ochsner has completed more than 25,000 community COVID-19 tests across the state since May. Testing is open to residents, age 2+, and there are no out-of-pocket costs. For more information and a list of test locations, visit www.ochsner.org/testing.