Read updates for Friday, March 20

UPDATE: Thursday 5:30 pm

There are now 392 cases of coronavirus in the State of Louisiana, with 10 deaths, according to numbers just released by the Louisiana Department of Health.

26 of the state's 64 parishes now have confirmed cases of coronavirus, more than double the number of 10 just a few days ago.

Cases are popping up in Baton Rouge, which now has 6 cases. Lafayette has 3. New Orleans has the most in the state with 249 cases, while Jefferson Parish has 69.

UPDATE: Thursday 3:40 pm

Governor John Bel Edwards says there are now 380 cases of coronavirus in the state of Louisiana and 10 deaths. He said the state could exceed its health care capacity in 7 days. 

He said that the state is currently pacing similar to Italy, which has now surpassed China as the country with the most cases and deaths.

Edwards also said that if cases continue to pace the way they are now, they will likely outstrip the state's health care system in as few as 7 days.

The surge in cases is illustrated by tents being placed outside of the University Medical Center to help care for cases and possible temporary spots in Bayou Segnette for people awaiting test results and who otherwise don't have anywhere to go.

RELATED: Track COVID-19: Louisiana Coronavirus Outbreak Map

RELATED: Governor: If we don't stop the spread, Louisiana on pace for worst case scenario

RELATED: New Orleans area hospitals use hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19

UPDATE: Thursday 3:20 p.m.

ESPN's Adam Schefter is reporting that Saints head coach Sean Payton has tested positive for coronavirus, the first known person in the NFL to test positive.

UPDATE, Thursday, March 19, 2:15 pm

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said on a conference call with President Donald Trump and other governors that modeling shows Louisiana could exceed its healthcare capacity in 7 days, asks feds for more resources. 

More details likely in Governor Edwards 3:30 p.m. press conference...

Louisiana Coronavirus Numbers: 

  • 10 deaths
  • 392 confirmed cases 
  • 899 people tested 

Key Updates:

  • There are now 92 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus across Louisiana, with eight people dead from the disease COVID-19 since it was first identified in the state on Monday, March 9.
  • Governor John Bel Edwards says to expect a potential spike in total cases today and tomorrow as Louisiana ramps up its testing efforts. 
  • 26 of the state's 64 parishes are now reporting case, up from 10 just a couple of days ago
  • St. James Parish and Jefferson Parish reported their first deaths from the virus yesterday. It was the first confirmed case for St. James in total. Orleans Parish still accounts for most COVID-19 cases in the state by far, with 231. 
  • Six of the eight Louisianians who have died were residents of New Orleans. Four lived at Lambeth House, a retirement community in Uptown and the only identified "cluster" of COVID-19 in the state.

All Louisiana parishes eligible for Business Aid

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards announced Thursday that small businesses in all parishes will have access to federal disaster aid from the Small Business Administration. 

More than 440,000 small businesses are eligible to apply for low-interest federal disaster loans for businesses suffering due to the coronavirus.

Businesses can apply for up to $2 million in working capital to pay for fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can't be paid due to the public health emergency. 

The loans have a 3.75 % interest rate for small businesses and 2.75% for nonprofits. 

To get started immediately, visit SBA.gov/Disaster. SBA offers a three-step process for disaster loans explained here.

"Our hope is that these SBA disaster loans will be an important part of sustaining their businesses and providing support to their employees who make up over half of Louisiana’s private-sector workforce," Edwards said.

Louisiana Economic Development also is offering COVID-19: Business Resources, an online guide to assistance available for impacted businesses. Look for updates to the guide at OpportunityLouisiana.com.

Better Business Bureau warns of  coronavirus scams

From the BBB:

"The Better Business Bureau of South Central Louisiana is warning the public of some current scams hitting our area in relation to the coronavirus.

Look out for fake cures and phony prevention measures. Scammers are cashing in on our anxiety about the disease. Watch out for emails saying you’re eligible for an emergency government grant. When in doubt, always check it out.

Some of the concerns from consumers include price gouging, where companies over price items when disasters strike. Things like toilet paper, gas, and food, could be targeted now. If you feel like you’ve been a victim of price gouging, contact the BBB and the Attorney General’s Office. "

University of Holy Cross offers free telecounseling

From the university: 

"The University of Holy Cross (UHC) is offering free telecounseling to New Orleans area residents during the COVID-19 crisis. The phone-in counseling sessions are being offered Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. by calling 504-398-2168. Officials say they may expand the hours and add Friday hours based on demand. Residents can call during these hours to speak about their current mental issues, get tips to maintain sanity during social distancing and/or isolation, and talk about any long-term psychological effects from the COVID-19 crisis.

'The University of Holy Cross and our founding Marianite nuns are still, after 104 years, committed to caring for our community and being a shining light in an ever-changing world,' said UHC President Dr. Stanton F. McNeely. 'This free telecounseling program was set up very quickly by our Counseling Department to provide immediate and continuous access to those who may be struggling in these uncertain times.'

Anyone seeking to schedule a telecounseling appointment should call 504-398-2168 to schedule an appointment with the UHC Counseling Department between the hours of 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday. The free telecounseling phone line is not meant to be an emergency response line. Anyone experiencing a mental health emergency should call 911."

Jefferson Parish warns residents to not flush disinfectant wipes

The Jefferson Parish Department of Sewerage is warning residents to not flush disinfectant wipes down toilets, even if those wipes are labeled as flushable.

The wipes, along with normal paper towels, can clog drains, back up sewers and cause overflows and stoppages.

"Keeping sewer systems up and running is crucial during the COVID-19 outbreak," Director Mike Lockwood said Thursday morning.

Read more 

University of New Orleans cancels spring commencement

The University of New Orleans will not hold its May commencement ceremony for graduating seniors because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

A new new date for the ceremony has not been announced. UNO president John Nicklow said he wants to celebrate the university's graduates but the change was necessary to limit large gatherings.

"This postponement in no way diminishes the impressiveness of their accomplishments and the pride we feel for their achievements," Nicklow said. "It is simply the only responsible choice in the current circumstances. We hope the decision, painful as it might be, will also give our graduates and their families some rare certainty in these uncertain times.”

Senior shopping hours at Dorignac's, Winn-Dixie, more stores 

Seniors are some of the most vulnerable to the new coronavirus, so they're getting a chance to shop for the things they need in a safe, clean environment.

Dorignac's opened their doors early Thursday for senior shoppers. They'll open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. on Monday and Thursday mornings. After that, everyone else will be able to shop as well.

Winn-Dixie also began senior hours Thursday. Elderly shoppers can shop there from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. Mondays through Fridays.

Read more 

Some services still available at Lakeside Mall 

The largest shopping center in the New Orleans metro area closed most of its businesses this week but there are still some services available at the mall. 

Dillard's, Bra Genie, Charles Schwab, Edward Jones and the Whitney Bank are still open. Dick's Sporting Goods has curbside pick-up for online orders. 

Restaurants like Bravo, Fleming's and P.F. Chang's in the Lakeside Mall are offering curbside pick-up and take out. 

See that list here 

National Guard to open facilities for coronavirus patients, man drive-thru test sites

Louisiana National Guard troops are no stranger to New Orleans in times of trouble.

It’s hard to forget their contributions after Hurricane Katrina when they helped keep the peace in the dark days after the 2005 storm and rescued countless residents who were trapped when 80 percent of the city flooded.

They are now back in the city responding to the latest emergency, the Coronavirus outbreak.

“Some of us have been here since last Wednesday at the request of the city,” Col. Kenneth Baillie, the Guard’s point man in the New Orleans said. “We’re prepared to fulfill any function the city asked us to help them with and Jefferson Parish as well.”

So far, 155 citizen soldiers and airmen have been activated for missions in New Orleans and Jefferson Parish.

Wednesday morning, 50 military medics trained in the city.

Read more

Lambeth House victim was longtime New Orleans area psychiatrist 

The 92-year-old Lambeth House resident who passed away Wednesday was Dr. Charles Rodney Smith, a psychiatrist who practiced in New Orleans area for more than 50 years, his daughter Helen Smith Guidry said. 

Smith was the founder and president of the Burdon-Smith Clinic and served on the facilities of both Tulane and LSU medical schools. 

"Our family appreciates the outpouring of sympathy and support from friends and from the residents and staff of Lambeth House," Smith Guidry said. "We urge everyone to take this current global situation seriously and to take all measures possible to protect their families, friends and co-workers, especially the elderly and those most vulnerable.”

Smith had lived at Lambeth House for four years. His wife of 57 years, Carol Heyer Smith, passed away a few months ago.  

Read more

New Orleans hospitals say they're ready for COVID-19

There are 7,485 hospital beds, including intensive care, in the Metro New Orleans Area.

Does that put us in a good place, given the growing number of COVID-19 cases?

“Well, yes and no.” Dr. Joseph Kanter, regional medical director for the Louisiana Department of Health, said. “We’re in good shape at the moment.”

Kanter says that’s the key phrase: At the moment.

“Now, we know what’s coming,” he said. “The storm’s coming in. See the clouds, see the weather report, so we need to be preparing.”

COVID-19 is a respiratory virus, which leads to breathing problems for some people. That’s why Kanter says the state is hoping to get more ventilators. Currently, Louisiana has 923 across the state.

“You have to have ventilators, because this is a respiratory disease and many people die by way of respiratory failure,” Dr. Kanter said.

The White House on Tuesday said it’s in the process of trying to get 2,000 more ventilators out across the country soon.

“And we are working with federal partners to make those available,” Kanter said. “And we’re going to need more healthcare personnel.”

Read more 

More resources 

Louisiana Coronavirus Outbreak Interactive Map

LIST: New Orleans-area cancelled and postponed events

Coronavirus global updates

School meal locations, parish by parish, during coronavirus break

LIST: Stores designate shopping times for seniors, vulnerable during COVID-19 outbreak

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.

► Get breaking news from your neighborhood delivered directly to you by downloading the new FREE WWL-TV News app now in the IOS App Store or Google Play.

‎Stay up-to-date with the latest news and weather in the New Orleans area on the all-new free WWL TV app. Our app features the latest breaking news that impacts you and your family, interactive weather and radar, and live video from our newscasts and local events. LOCAL & BREAKING NEWS * Receive r...