NEW ORLEANS — As of Tuesday morning, March 11, six people in Louisiana have tested presumptively positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.
One of those people, a man who asked to remain anonymous, is currently being treated at Touro Infirmary in New Orleans. He agreed to speak to WWL-TV over the phone to talk about his diagnosis and symptoms.
The patient, who will be referred to as “Gene,” is in his mid 50s. He works in the hospitality industry, as a driver, around the New Orleans area.
He's been in isolation for three days but says he's feeling much better after initially going to the hospital.
Gene says he went to the hospital on Monday morning, around 7 a.m., because he was experiencing flu-like symptoms. He says he felt weak, had shortness of breath, soreness and body aches.
Gene says hospital staff first tested him for the seasonal flu and other diseases, but after those came back negative he was tested for COVID-19. That result came back positive.
He says that the came in contact with international tourists while working as a driver, prompting doctors to test him for the virus.
He was moved into quarantine and has remained in isolation for three days. Hospital staff took a list of everyone close to him that he's been in contact with and tracked them down to be tested. There have been no diagnosed cases related to his as of yet.
Gene says he's feeling OK now but the staff at Touro haven't said when he may be released. They said they're paying special attention because he has a few underlying conditions that could potentially complicate his recovery.
He says he's being kept in a quarantine-style room. Any nurse or doctor that comes in enters a room between his and the public space then puts on protective clothing. They change out of that clothing and disinfect before they return to the public space.
Watch the phone interview below (story continues below video)
Gene says he's thankful to be feeling better but worries about the impact the spread of coronavirus likely will have on the service industry.
“That’s the main reason I think it’s going to affect a lot of people. If you are possibly infected or sick, you don’t have a choice but to go to work because we don’t have paid leave as Uber, Lyft drivers, or Taxi drivers, or people that work in the hotel industry, that’s going to be a big problem," Gene said.
As of Tuesday morning, Gene is one of six patients in the state who has tested presumptively position for COVID-19, the disease that has been spreading across the country through the coronavirus.
This case is considered a "presumptive positive" because it hasn't officially been confirmed by the Center for Disease Control. But the test was confirmed by Louisiana's health department, where officials are treating it as a positive COVID-19 case.
Here is everything we know about the six patients diagnosed so far:
- One Jefferson Parish resident being treated at the VA Medical Center
- One Orleans Parish resident being treated at UMC
- One Orleans Parish resident being treated at Touro
- One Orleans Parish resident being treated at Tulane Medical Center
- One Orleans Parish residents being treated at unknown hospitals in Orleans Parish
- One Orleans Parish resident being treated at Slidell Memorial Hospital
Click below for the latest information on these cases, and event cancellations around the area:
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. These symptoms may appear 2 to 14 days after exposure.
Worldwide illnesses have ranged from mild to severe, including severe pneumonia that can result in hospitalization or death.
Older people and people with underlying health conditions including heart disease, lung disease or cancer seem to be at greater risk of serious illness.
People with recent travel to China, or have come in contact with someone who has recent travel and is ill, have a greater risk for becoming ill.
What to do if you are sick:
If you recently traveled to an area affected by COVID-19 transmission, and you feel sick, stay home and call your doctor immediately. Do not go to the doctor without calling first.
If you have a fever, cough, or shortness of breath, call your primary care provider. If you do not have a primary care provider, call the Louisiana Department of Health hotline at 1-855-523-2652.
If you are severely ill and you think you need to go to the hospital, call 9-1-1 or go to an emergency room.
How to Prevent the Spread
The virus is thought to spread between people in close contact (within 6 feet) and through droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
To prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Wash hands with soap and water often or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Especially wash hands after going to the bathroom, before eating and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Stay home if you feel sick to prevent the spread of germs.
- Cover your cough with your elbow to prevent the spread of germs.
Treatments for COVID-19
There are no medications specifically approved for COVID-19. People with coronavirus should be treated with supportive care to help relieve symptoms.
Some severe cases require going to the hospital, particularly in the elderly or those with underlying medical conditions.