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Louisiana Coronavirus Updates: Now 512 deaths, 14,867 cases statewide

New Orleans is one of several places that the White House warns could experience its peak of COVID-19 cases this week.

This live blog has ended. See live updates for Tuesday, April 7 here

Latest Numbers:

  • 512 deaths (+35)
  • 14,867 total cases (+1,857)
  • 1,809 patients hospitalized (+6)
  • 563 in need of ventilators (+2) 
  • 62 of 64 parishes reporting cases (+1) 
  • 69,166 tests completed (+8,841)

Key Updates:

  • There are now more than 500 people dead and 1,800 hospitalized across Louisiana since the first reported case of COVID-19 in New Orleans 28 days ago, on March 9.
  • Governor John Bel Edwards now warns the state is projected to run out of ventilators by Thursday and ICU beds by Friday. The state has received around 550 ventilators from the national stockpile and private vendors.
  • The Convention Center opens as a field hospital today with a 1,000-bed capacity for COVID-19 patients who are not in intensive care. Another facility is being set up across the street to house another 250 patients. 
  • Nationwide, health officials are warning of a week of devastation similar to Pearl Harbor and 9/11, with several hard hit areas (including New Orleans) potentially reaching their first peak of deaths simultaneously.

Read yesterday's blog

St. John the Baptist Parish to offer drive-thru COVID-19 testing

 The Ochsner Medical Complex – River Parishes in St. John the Baptist Parish will offer drive-thru testing for the coronavirus disease for three days per week starting next week.

Starting on April 7, the drive-thru testing will happen Tuesdays through Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the complex at 1900 West Airline Highway in Laplace, La.

RELATED: St. John the Baptist to offer drive-thru COVID-19 testing

Hospitalizations, ventilator rates only increase by single digits 

There may be cause for some cautious optimism in regards to coronavirus hospitalization numbers in Louisiana.

On Monday, the Louisiana Department of Health counted 8,841 new COVID-19 tests, the biggest daily increase to date representing a sixth of the total tests on record.

However, that significant increase only yielded 1,809 new confirmed cases of the virus, a percentage gain much lower than in previous days. 

More notably, the total increase of patients registered in state hospitals for COVID-19 treatment only increased by six, while those in need of ventilators only increased by two. 

That's the smallest of either number since the LDH began publishing them on March 23. In comparison, the worst day so far was on March 28, when 200 patients were hospitalized in a single day and 156 new patients were listed as needing a ventilator. 

While it's important to take into account the difficulties in accurately tracking the trends of coronavirus in Louisiana and the U.S. (i.e. testing lag, symptom-to-hospitalization timeline, posthumous death count), Monday's numbers show the importance that the following days will hold in revealing the coronavirus' path.

As of Monday, the LDH was still not able to provide COVID-19 recovery rates for the state. However, the global recovery number was around 300,000. 

Sheraton New Orleans to be used as coronavirus spill-over facility

The Sheraton New Orleans Hotel is set to become a field hospital to be used in the city's response to the coronavirus pandemic, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate reports. 

According to the newspaper, the Sheraton, at 500 Canal Street, has been leased by the state to serve as a spill-over medical facility to handle the city's surge in coronavirus patients.

The hotel would operate the same as the Ernest M. Morial Convention Center, which is now in operation with 1,000 beds for COVID-19 patients in recovery to take some of the strain off local hospitals, the newspaper reports.

The Sheraton was previously used to house first responders in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Read more 

Convention Center field hospital begins taking COVID-19 patients

The Ernest N. Morial Convention Center has been transformed into a field hospital, and beginning Monday, COVID-19 patients who are well enough to leave hospitals but not well enough to go home will be treated there.

"You gotta see it to believe it," Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser said. "To be able to do this in such a professional way in a way that will isolate patients and keep them safe as they are brought here...it's pretty incredible." 

Outside of the convention center, a second facility — not yet ready— is intended to treat up to 250 patients. That facility will treat people who likely have COVID-19 but haven't got test results back yet.

It's important that those two types of patients are kept apart.

"If someone with a negative test would come in here — it's all patients with positive tests, so we would worry that they would be infectious if they weren't actually positive,"  Medical Operations Manager Dr. Meghan Maslanka said.

Read more 

Louisiana will get 200 new ventilators from federal stockpile, still less than 10% of what's needed

Louisiana will get 200 more ventilators from the federal government's emergency stockpile, Gov. John Bel Edwards said Saturday as the state's health department reported another 2,200 confirmed coronavirus cases.

The 200 ventilators from the Strategic National Stockpile were promised by Vice President Mike Pence, Edwards said in a statement.

Saturday, Louisiana had 12,496 confirmed cases of coronavirus. At least 409 people have died from COVID-19, the respiratory illness associated with the newest virus strain.

Louisiana has already gathered 553 ventilators: 150 from the national stockpile, 400 from private vendors and three from the Louisiana National Guard.

But the state needs more.

State health officials have estimated that the state needs 12,000 ventilators for the continued torrent of hospitalized COVID-19 patients. Even with the promise of additional ventilators, the state will have less than 10% of that goal.

Read more 

Check points at Louisiana-Texas border open

Checkpoints to screen vehicles have been set up on all roads entering Texas from Louisiana as of Sunday, April 5, according to Louisiana State Police.

These checkpoints are designed to prevent people from the state of Louisiana from spreading the coronavirus in Texas.

According to the executive order from Gov. Greg Abbott, “Every person who enters the State of Texas through roadways from Louisiana … shall be subject to mandatory self-quarantine…”

The order does not apply to people traveling for military service, emergency response, healthcare workers coming to assist in the state or other critical functions.

Read more 

Lousiana doctors try to treat COVID-19 with plasma donations from recovered patients

People who have recovered from COVID-19 may be able to help those who are seriously ill. 

Doctors through LSU Health Shreveport are testing out plasma therapy to give one patient a fighting chance at survival. 

David Langston and Kevin Calhoun have both recovered from COVID-19. They tested positive, recovered, and now test negative. That qualifies them for donating their plasma.

Langston was one of the first positive cases in Louisiana. 

He received his positive test result March 11. He is now fully recovered and feeling great, especially since he may be the saving grace for someone else. 

Read more 

Tools 

MORE: Drive-thru coronavirus test locations in Southeast Louisiana

MORE: Louisiana Coronavirus Outbreak Interactive Map

MORE: COVID-19 Timeline: See how fast things have changed in Louisiana

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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