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Louisiana Coronavirus Updates: 763 cases, 20 deaths, new cases in several parishes

City and state officials are urging people to avoid contact with each other as the number of cases in Louisiana continues to rise.

NEW ORLEANS — UPDATE: Saturday March 21 - 6:41 PM

  • 20 deaths in state  
  • 763 confirmed cases
  • 35 of 64 parishes have cases
  • 1294 state tests, 2008 commercial

Key Updates:

  • 20 Louisianians and one Mississippian have died from the new coronavirus in the state. Nearly half of the state's parishes have reported coronavirus cases. 
  • Governor John Bel Edwards says Louisiana's healthcare system could be overwhelmed in as early as seven days by COVID-19 cases. He's asked President Donald Trump for help from the federal government. 
  • A fifth death has been reported out of the Lambeth House retirement community in New Orleans, where the state's only known "virus cluster" is impacting elderly residents and employees there.
  • In most instances, testing around the state and country has been reserved only for people already exhibiting extensive COVID-19 symptoms who have also already tested negative for the flu.  
  • See the updates from Friday here.

Latest Updates: 

Drive-thru testing to open for all with symptoms  - 11 a.m. 

The two drive-thru coronavirus testing centers in New Orleans will expand their testing criteria starting Sunday, allowing anybody with a fever and other possible coronavirus symptoms to be tested. 

There are 100 tests available each day. 

Jefferson Parish officials said Saturday morning that they had tested all first responders and healthcare workers who showed up to the testing center, and would be opening the rest of their tests to the public, allowing anybody with symptoms to get tested. 

Nearly 600 coronavirus cases reported - 9:30 a.m.

Louisiana has reported 585 cases of coronavirus in the state. Two more people have died from the virus since the state last updated its figures Friday night. 

Both were Orleans Parish residents. One was 77-years-old and the other was a 53-year-old. In total, Louisiana has reported 16 deaths from the virus. 

Nearly half of the state's parishes have reported at least one case: 29 of the 64 parishes in the state have confirmed at least one coronavirus case. Officials have said the number could be much higher, but the true scope of the virus isn't known because there aren't enough resources to test everybody who exhibits symptoms. 

Fewer inmates at New Orleans Jail - 7:45 a.m.

According to data from Jeff Asher, a crime analyst who works with the city of New Orleans, the inmate population housed at the New Orleans Jail has decreased by 12% over 10 days. 

On March 11, 1,045 inmates were housed at the jail, according to Asher's statistics. 

By March 21, the prison population had dropped to 930. 

Courthouses have shut down and legal proceedings around New Orleans have ground to a halt as city officials put limits on how many people could gather in one place. 

New Orleans staying indoors - 6:30 a.m. 

The streets of downtown New Orleans were empty Saturday morning, save for the occasional glare of a single car's headlights. 

Friday, the city was placed under a "stay home" mandate as city officials urged residents to stay in their homes except for essential services such as food and medicine. 

RELATED: 'Stay home'; Mayor Cantrell issues mandate to slow coronavirus spread

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.

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