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The Louisiana Department of Health will report a newly identified backlog of COVID-19 tests in addition to its standard reporting on Friday, the agency has announced.

“Due to a processing error in the electronic lab reporting system, LDH will report a backlog of 2,538 COVID cases on 69,125 tests reported to the state,” officials said in a statement.

While this will result in a significant increase in reported COVID cases today, the Department of Health said it will reallocate these backlogged lab results back to their specimen collection dates, which range from Sept. 12 - Nov. 18.

Of the 2,538 total backlogged cases, approximately 1,038 date back to Halloween.

The backlogged cases come from all regions, with the greatest impact being in the Shreveport/Bossier (498 cases) and Monroe (872 cases) areas, health officials said. The Department of Health reported that 85 percent of the cases are tied “to community spread, not congregate settings like nursing homes.”

In the statement, the Department of Health warned that the state is seeing sharp rises in new COVID-19 cases and percent positivity and encouraged people to follow recommended mitigation measures to slow the spread.

New cases among multiple age groups are increasing, and there are “notable increases continued” for nursing home residents and staff cases over the past week.

Health officials have identified an increase in percent positivity in 55 of the state’s 64 parishes, and hospitalizations per capita for the state are increasing over the last 14 days.

On Wednesday, LDH reported 4 new bar outbreaks with 21 associated cases in the past week, as well as four new church outbreaks with 13 associated cases since Nov. 10. Additional outbreaks have also been identified at restaurants, gyms, and industrial settings.

Since that report, an additional 18 outbreaks with 97 associated cases have been reported this week, which include four new outbreaks tied to restaurants, four new outbreaks tied to industrial settings, and three new outbreaks tied to religious events/services.

“Sadly, 2 deaths among religious service-related outbreak cases have been reported,” LDH said.

LDH has identified an increased number of outbreaks and cases associated with small social gatherings — happy hours, game nights, and family dinners.

Health officials implored people to wear a mask, social distance, wash your hands often, and take any small gathering outdoors.

“We know these simple public health measures work when we all take them to heart,” LDH said.

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