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17-year-old from New Orleans dies from coronavirus disease

The teen's death is the first death reported in Louisiana under the age of 36.

NEW ORLEANS — Louisiana health officials say a 17-year-old patient from Orleans Parish has died from COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus.

New information released by the Louisiana Department of Health only listed the teen's age and the parish where they lived. It did not identify the teen or say if they had any pre-existing medical conditions.

The teen's death is the first death reported in Louisiana under the age of 36. 

The teenager was a student at a New Orleans public school, according to NOLA-PS Superintendent Dr. Henderson Lewis, Jr.

"The loss of one of our students is utterly devastating and is felt deeply by NOLA-PS and our school community at large. Our thoughts and prayers are with their family and friends during this unimaginable time. It’s so important for us to support one another as we navigate through this time and cherish those we have in our lives. Our school community is strong and we will support each other in the days to come.”

Gov. John Bel Edwards on Thursday said he was unsure whether any underlying health conditions made the teen particularly vulnerable to COVID-19. 

"But it does illustrate the point that everyone is at risk," said Edwards, who issued a statewide, stay-at-home order that took effect Monday in a bid to slow the spread of the highly contagious virus. "Some percentage, regardless of age and their health, ... are at risk of having serious, severe complications. That includes deaths."

Edwards added, "Nobody should assume this disease will not severely impact them or have the potential to kill them." 

In total, 83 people have died from COVID-19 in Louisiana as of March 26. There have been 2,305 cases reported. The LDH says 676 patients are hospitalized due to the disease, of those 239 need ventilators.

Orleans and Jefferson parishes lead the state in number of confirmed cases and deaths. As of Wednesday, 1455 cases and 58 deaths have been reported in those two parishes alone.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illnesses including pneumonia. The vast majority of people are expected to recover from the virus.

Louisiana is scrambling to ready makeshift hospitals and track down ventilators as the steady uptick of coronavirus cases continue. Increased testing capacity in the state is demonstrating what officials feared: a ballooning number of infected people that remains among the highest per-capita rate in the nation. 

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