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Louisiana Coronavirus Updates: 3rd death from virus; business closings expand

The victim was said to be an 84-year-old person who had resided at Lambeth House.

Read live blog for Tuesday, March 17 here 

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A third person in Orleans Parish has died from the effects of coronavirus, Governor Edwards reported Monday afternoon as he laid out more restrictions on citizens as the state tries to stem the spread of the coronavirus. 

The victim was said to be an 84-year-old person who had resided at Lambeth House.

There are now 136 diagnosed cases of COVID-19 in the state of Louisiana, with 94 of those in New Orleans alone, one of the hottest spots in the nation. There are 16 in Jefferson Parish as well. 

The number of cases in Louisiana continues to grow significantly since Friday, and that number is expected to continue growing as more people are tested.

Two other patients diagnosed with the coronavirus have died. Both were being treated at Touro Hospital and both were from New Orleans. One was 58-years-old and another was 53. Both were said by the state to have had underlying conditions.

Bars closing at midnight, won't open for weeks

Jefferson Parish switches to 'essential service only'

Jefferson Parish President Cynthia Lee Sheng gave an update Monday evening on the parish's response to the coronavirus outbreak in Louisiana. 

The parish government would be operating on an "essential services only" model for the next several weeks. 

According to updated numbers released by the state Monday evening, 20 of Louisiana's 136 cases have been from Jefferson Parish. The parish has the second-highest number of cases in the state, behind Orleans Parish's 95. 

Jefferson Parish schools will offer "grab and go" lunches and breakfast meals for the next day for all students. The meal program is being offered to all students in the parish, not just those enrolled in Jefferson Parish schools. 

The 13 sites will be open Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

Catholic Mass canceled 

The Archdiocese of New Orleans has canceled all masses and church functions for the foreseeable future in light of the coronavirus situation, church officials said. 

The cancellation includes all St. Joseph gatherings and confessions for at least the next three weeks. 

Dine-in eating, malls close in New Orleans

At a press conference, Mayor LaToya Cantrell read a proclamation prohibiting all "non-essential" gatherings. 

Malls, gyms and event venues were ordered to close as part of the proclamation. 

All dine-in services for restaurants in the city were shut down by the proclamation. The city will still allow restaurants to do delivery, takeout and drive-thru services. 

Grocery stores, banks, gas stations and pharmacies, alongside other necessary businesses such as healthcare offices, will be allowed to remain open, but NOPD officers will work to prevent loitering at those businesses. 

NOPD Superintendent Shaun Ferguson said the NOPD would be enforcing the closures, threatening that any business that did not comply would be referred to the city's permits division. 

"If you want to keep your license to operate, we urge you to comply," he said. 

City asks for no gatherings 

Dr. Jennifer Avegno, the city's director of public health, asked that both public and private gatherings be canceled. 

"We are asking you to make significant changes to your lives," she said. 

Avegno said that any gathering should be no bigger than a "reasonable household size." 

Governor closes bars, movie theaters and dine-in restaurants 

In an effort to suspend the spread of coronavirus, Governor Edwards has announced some more drastic measures Monday.

The governor, in an effort to abide by the CDC recommendation to limit groups to 50 and under in number, said that he will do the following:

- Close casinos, bars and movie theaters

- limit restaurants to take out or drive-thru only

The measures will take place until at least April 13. 

“More aggressive steps are necessary to fight the spread of COVID-19 across Louisiana. Following additional guidance from the CDC, gatherings of more than 50 people are no longer permitted, bars and casinos must close and restaurants will only be able to offer take out or delivery,” Gov. Edwards said. “These limitations were difficult to make, but they are necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19, protect the health of Louisianans and flatten the curve.”

Read more 

Louisiana's legislative session pushed back by coronavirus pandemic 

Louisiana's annual law making session in Baton Rouge will be postponed in an effort to curb the spread of the new coronavirus, legislators announced Monday. 

Louisiana legislative leaders have agreed to temporarily suspend their lawmaking session as health officials announced the number of coronavirus cases continues to grow.

The Legislature was responding to growing calls to recess its work rather than allow hundreds of people from around the state to continue attending committee hearings and votes.

“The public health crisis at hand has placed the legislature in unchartered waters,” said Senate President Page Cortez. “With every decision we make, we are balancing the health and welfare of our citizens, staff, and legislators with our constitutional responsibilities. At this time, we believe it is in the best interest of our state to temporarily adjourn the session.”

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Louisiana casinos will close for two weeks due to coronavirus

Twenty casinos across Louisiana will reportedly shut down at midnight Tuesday for two weeks to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the potentially deadly respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus.

The Times-Picayune | New Orleans Advocate reports that the order was issued Monday by Ronnie Jones, chair of Louisiana's gambling board.

The order comes after the Center for Disease Control recommended that gatherings of 50 or more people should be canceled for postponed for the next eight weeks.

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New Orleans area OMV location close, deadlines pushed back 

Office of Motor Vehicle locations around the New Orleans area are closed indefinitely as COVID-19 spread across Southeast Louisiana, state leaders announced Sunday. 

Several deadlines, including expirations for license plates and several fees, have been pushed back to accommodate for the closures.

Starting Monday, the OMV locations at 100 Veterans Boulevard and 7500 Bullard Avenue in New Orleans will remain closed. 

The Lindberg Drive office in Slidell, the Williams Street office in Donaldsonville, the Main Street office in Homer and the Highway 190 office in DeRidder will also stay closed.

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Second coronavirus victim in Louisiana identified

Last week, shortly after he was diagnosed with a case of the coronavirus, Eric Paulsen did a phone interview with Eugene Jefferson from his hospital room at Touro Hospital.

At the time he was only identified as "Gene" to keep his anonymity, but Gene became the state of Louisiana's second victim of the coronavirus.

Monday, Eric Paulsen posted a heartfelt tribute to his friend on Facebook.

Read more 

Now 114 coronavirus cases in Louisiana, 79 in New Orleans  

In the latest update from the Louisiana Department of Health, 114 have now been confirmed to have COVID-19, up from 103 on Sunday. No new deaths from the disease were reported Monday morning. 

New Orleans saw an increase in total cases, up to 79. Jefferson Parish cases increased to 16, and St. Tammany Parish cases increased to five. 

See map 

Stocks plunge at open, trading halted for third time in two weeks

US stocks plunged Monday morning, halting trading for 15 minutes for the third time in two weeks. 

The S&P 500 index declined by more than 7%, triggering a Level 1 Market Wide Circuit Breaker. The Dow opened at 2,250 points lower, or 9.7%. The Nasdaq composite fell 6.1%. 

Earlier Monday, futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 fell 5%, triggering a halt in trading, despite the Federal Reserve's decision to slash interest rates to zero Sunday. It's a sign that Friday's nearly 2,000-point gain may be short lived.

Asian markets were also taking a beating in Monday trading as more governments imposed anti-virus controls that are shutting down business and travel.

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Latest restrictions from the City of New Orleans to combat COVID-19 spread

COVID-19 is spreading faster in New Orleans than other cities across the country according to New Orleans Health Director Dr. Avegno. 

"The trend that we are seeing cannot be ignored," she said. 

Now, there are new guidelines for New Orleans bars and restaurants as part of a city-wide response to try and stop the spread of COVID-19. 

Full-service restaurants will reduce seating by up to 50 percent to help the practice social distancing. They will close their doors at 9 p.m., but restaurants can still offer delivery afterward. 

Fast food restaurants can only offer drive-thru service but can stay open 24 hours a day. Bars and nightclubs will close at midnight with a 50 person limit.

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See school in New Orleans serving food to students during closures

New Orleans Public Schools, charter schools and local agencies are working together to help feed school students during the prolonged school closure because of coronavirus concerns.

The efforts have resulted in a city-wide child nutrition program starting March 23, but some school locations will become Community Feeding Locations open to anyone younger than 18 beginning Monday.

Here is a list of schools that will be Community Feeding Centers beginning Monday, including their addresses and hours of operation.

Read more 

Louisiana Workforce Commission announces pandemic plan

The Louisiana Workforce Commission has announced its plan to assist workers who are left unemployed or unpaid due to the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the Department of Labor, you may be eligible if your work hours have been reduced because of lack of work due to Coronavirus, or if your workplace closes or instructs employees not to go to work, while not paying employees.

Workers may be eligible for up to $247 per week in unemployment assistance.

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New Orleans libraries to close indefinitely

All branches of the New Orleans Public Library system will close indefinitely starting Monday, according to an email sent to library staff. 

Public library employees received an email Sunday saying New Orleans public libraries will be temporarily closed beginning Monday. Library employees who are scheduled to work Monday were asked to report to work as normal, but were told the libraries will be closed to the public.

Some library employees expressed concern about the spread of the new coronavirus, COVID-19, if libraries were kept open, especially without specific training and disinfecting supplies in place.

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New CDC coronavirus guidelines: Cancel events with 50 or more people

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Sunday announced new large events and mass gathering guidelines surrounding the coronavirus, COVID-19.

The federal agency said it recommends for the next eight weeks organizers should cancel or postpone in-person events that involve 50 people or more throughout the United States. That includes conferences, festivals, parades, concerts, sporting events, weddings, etc.

However, the new guidelines do not include schools, institutes of higher learning, or businesses. The advisory also doesn't supersede direction from state and local officials.

Read more 

Streetcars, buses and ferries to operate on reduced schedule starting Tuesday

New Orleans' public transportation network of ferries, buses and streetcars will be limited starting Tuesday, city officials said. 

The Regional Transit Authority will begin service reductions starting March 17, officials said in a statement. The changes are being made to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the disease contracted from the coronavirus. 

Officials are asking residents to avoid using public transportation unless they are traveling for essential work such as healthcare and nutrition services.  

All buses and streetcars will operate on a reduced Saturday schedule from Monday through Friday after March 17.

Read more 

Family mourns 1st coronavirus death in Louisiana

As the resident of a facility serving people with developmental disabilities, 58-year-old Ives Green had limited contact with the outside world, and he did not know why he had been feeling unwell, according to his family, the Times-Picayune | New Orleans Advocate reported.

But Green’s condition deteriorated so much recently that medical staff at Touro Infirmary in New Orleans received the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s permission to give him a test for the new coronavirus, which only a few people in Louisiana have been getting.

Read more 

What you need to know about COVID-19: 

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.

More Stories: 

RELATED: Louisiana Coronavirus Outbreak Interactive Map

RELATED: LIST: New Orleans-area cancelled and postponed events

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