NEW ORLEANS — Latest Numbers:
- 119 deaths (+36)
- 2,746 total cases (+441)
- 773 patients hospitalized (+97)
- 270 in need of ventilators (+31)
- 21,359 tests completed (+3,330)
- 54 of 64 parishes reporting cases (+1)
- It's been two and a half weeks since Louisiana's first recorded case of COVID-19. In that time, 119 people have died, 2,746 are known to be infected with the coronavirus and the state's life (from schools to businesses to events) has been forced to a halt in order to slow the spread.
- The community in Louisiana, where New Orleans' coronavirus death rate currently leads the entire world, is facing the rising tide of unemployment yet continues to find ways to help, from producing medical supplies to donating food, funds and time to fight the pandemic.
- Nationally, Congress has passed the $2.2 trillion rescue package, which is now being rushed to President Donald Trump's desk to sign. It comes as the U.S. surpasses China and Italy to have the most recorded coronavirus cases in the world.
JBE: Louisiana's curve continues to grow
In a press conference Friday, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said that the recent spike in reported coronavirus deaths confirmed that the state hasn't reached the top of the curve for the spread of coronavirus.
The governor said Louisiana is expected to get $1.8 billion in federal funding from the $2.2 trillion economic relief bill passed by the House Friday.
But despite that, he said the situation is still dire in Louisiana.
The state needs thousands of ventilators for COVID-19 patients, and has only received 100. While another 100 ventilators are expected next week, it won't be nearly enough, Edwards said.
"We would run out of ventilators sometime around April 2 or 3," he said.
8 coronavirus clusters reported in Louisiana
State health officials have confirmed two more coronavirus clusters in the state, bringing the total number up to eight.
All eight clusters were reported in nursing homes, assisted living facilities or independent living facilities serving elderly people, who have the highest risk of serious complications from coronavirus.
The cluster locations are at Chateau D’Ville, Chateau De Notre Dame, Chateau St. James, Good Samaritan New Orleans, Lambeth House, Luling Living Center, St. James Place and Vista Shores.
Louisiana has 36 new deaths, new highest single-day loss for state
The state has suffered its greatest single-day loss of the coronavirus pandemic: 36 dead, double the number from yesterday. There are now 119 Louisianans who have died from the new virus.
A third of the new deaths came from Jefferson Parish, where their death toll doubled in a day -- from 12 to 24.
Terrebonne and Plaquemines parishes, which had both gone without a death until now, both reported coronavirus-related deaths. For Plaquemines, it was two dead.
Tangipahoa Parish is now the last parish in Southeast Louisiana without a COVID-19-related death.
Of the now 2,746 total COVID-19 patients in the state, there were 97 new hospitalizations since yesterday and 31 more people put onto ventilators to stave off the respiratory failure that stems from the disease.
While the state is working with the federal government, private companies and the parishes to get more ventilators and other needed medical equipment, this sustained rate of hospitalizations puts the New Orleans area on track to go overcapacity by Gov. John Bel Edwards' estimation of April 4.
There are 7,485 hospital beds and 923 ventilators in the state of Louisiana.
New Orleans has handily surpassed 1,000 COVID-19 patients and registered 11 new deaths. Jefferson Parish's cases also increased by 90 in one day.
Cases by parish (SE Louisiana):
- Orleans: 1,170 cases, 57 deaths
- Jefferson: 548 cases, 24 deaths
- East Baton Rouge: 124 cases, 4 deaths
- St. John: 41 cases, 3 deaths
- St. Charles: 23 cases, 2 deaths
- St. Tammany: 111 cases, 2 death
- St. James: 40 cases, 3 death
- St. Bernard: 31 cases, 1 deaths
- Lafourche: 30 cases, 2 deaths
- Washington: 6 cases, 1 death
- Terrebonne: 23 cases, 1 deaths
- Plaquemines: 16 cases, 2 deaths
- Tangipahoa: 7 cases, 0 deaths
St. Tammany Parish surpassed 100 total cases and suffered its second death from the virus. St. John Parish also experienced its third death and Lafourche Parish reported its second death.
More than half of Louisiana's 119 deaths have been people who were aged 70 or older (69 deaths).
These numbers all come as the total amount of completed tests, which has been soaring this week, only increased by about 3,300 -- half of yesterday's total new tests.
St. Tammany Parish government goes online
St. Tammany Parish President Mike Cooper said Friday that he was asking all parish employees to shelter in place, saying those able to work from home would keep the parish's government running.
The order goes into effect Monday. Online services for permits, planning and other issues would continue, but might be delayed, Cooper said.
Cooper said no employees have tested positive for coronavirus so far.
Local businesses shift to medical supply production
The coronavirus outbreak has depleted the supply of personal protective equipment for health care workers now treating very sick patients.
Some New Orleans area businesses are now meeting the challenge to gear up “wartime” like production to help hospitals and families fill the COVID-19 void.
Scale Workspace is a product design and development firm in the warehouse district.
CEO Lyle LeBlanc said the company is now mass-producing 1000 face shields a day for Ochsner health.
Mayor: City would have canceled Mardi Gras if feds had taken coronavirus more seriously
Mardi Gras may have been the perfect breeding ground for the coronavirus, leading New Orleans to become one of the epicenters of the virus.
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell appeared on CNN Thursday afternoon saying if she had more information from the federal government, she would have pulled the plug on carnival season.
“When it's not taken seriously at the federal level it's very difficult to transcend down to the local level in making these decisions,” Cantrell said. “In hindsight, if we were given proper direction, we would not have had Mardi Gras and I would have been the leader to cancel it.”
Judges order releases of some detainees from N.O. jail
Orleans Parish Criminal Court judges have ordered the release of some lower level offenders and pre-trial defendants from the city's prison facility due to the threat of the coronavirus.
The order was issued in response to a motion by the Orleans Public Defenders Office to accelerate a piecemeal process of releasing inmates due to the risk inside the jail. The sheriff’s office said five employees tested positive for the virus and 13 more are awaiting test results. Another four employees of the jail’s private health care provider also tested positive.
While the effects of the order will play out in the coming days, the virus fears have led to a much higher-than-normal pace of jail releases, bringing the jail’s population to just over 900 inmates, the lowest level since Hurricane Katrina forced a total evacuation.
Texas issues order to quarantine individuals flying in from New Orleans
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order that now requires people flying into Texas from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and New Orleans to be quarantined for 14 days or for the duration of their stay, whichever is shorter.
According to Gov. Abbott, the quarantine will be enforced by the Texas Department of Public Safety to curb the spread of the coronavirus. People flying into the state from those place will have to fill out a form, identify where they will quarantine, then be subject to unannounced visits to verify compliance with the quarantine.
The order goes into effect Saturday, March 28, at noon. Gov. Abbott said it is a criminal offense to defy the order, punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, up to 180 days in jail or both.
New Orleans homeless move into to hotel to slow coronavirus spread
The homeless will be housed at the Hilton Garden Inn, a 155-room hotel, on Gravier Street in the Central Business District.
Adam Turni, the general manager, said it’s a win-win for the hotel, which can stay in business, and the homeless population.
“We can do our part to remove these persons off the street and slow the spread of the virus and get through this together," he said.
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.