NEW ORLEANS — Sunday had another grim benchmark in Louisiana's fight against the coronavirus: 68 more people had died since Saturday's numbers were released, in the largest single-day uptick in total deaths since the outbreak began more than a month ago, bringing the total number to 477.
And it might not hold that record for more than a day.
Health officials have warned that the beginning of April would be deadly for the state, predicting Louisiana would reach its peak of new cases around April 10, one day after ventilators are expected to run out and a day before ICU beds.
Already, the Morial Convention Center has been converted into a 1,000 patient facility to house coronavirus patients who require hospitalization but are able to breathe on their own.
Since the outbreak began on March 9, state officials have been releasing data daily on the number of confirmed cases, the number of tests conducted and the number of people killed.
Sundays have tended to be smaller updates, with fewer new tests coming in. The latest numbers reflect only a 3% increase in total testing with 1,827 new tests reported.
But the deaths have been rising throughout the first week of April. Half of the deaths associated with COVID-19 in the state have come since April 1.
There is some good news in the numbers, though.
Hospitalization increases are down, meaning fewer people per day are being hospitalized for coronavirus. The number of new hospitalizations had been on a downward slope since March 31 until Sunday's 77-person increase.
Although the total number continues to grow (1803 patients as of Sunday), it only grew by 77 patients since Saturday, which itself had the lowest jump so far, with only 19 people being hospitalized.
To put that in context, several days in March had 200 or more new patients reporting in to hospitals.
The number of patients on ventilators also decreased for the first time since reporting began. Saturday, 571 patients required ventilators to breathe, but on Sunday only 561 ventilators were needed.
It's unclear if that drop was due to patient deaths or to their conditions improving.
While Louisiana hasn't released any numbers regarding patients who have recovered from coronavirus, Johns Hopkins University's case tracker shows that more than 15,000 have recovered across the U.S.