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Louisiana Coronavirus Updates: 185 dead, 4,000 cases after 3 weeks with COVID-19

Three weeks ago today, Louisiana confirmed its first case of COVID-19 in Orleans Parish.

NEW ORLEANS — Read Updates for Tuesday, March 31 

Latest Numbers:

  • 185 deaths (+34)
  • 4,025 total cases (+485) 
  • 1,158 patients hospitalized (+31)
  • 385 in need of ventilators (+5)
  • 59 of 64 parishes reporting cases
  • 34,033 tests completed

Key Updates:

  • 21 days ago today, an Orleans Parish resident was the first person in the state to test positive for COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus. Since then, more than 180 people have died, hundreds have been hospitalized and thousands have tested positive for the virus.
  • Monday is a crucial day in tracking the coronavirus' spread in Louisiana, specifically in New Orleans and Jefferson Parish, after the numbers had an optimistic slow down Sunday. 
  • Governor John Bel Edwards says this is the critical week in which the New Orleans' area hospital system is projected to be overwhelmed by the number of COVID-19 patients in need of treatment. 1,000 beds for non-critical patients are being set up at the Convention Center in an attempt to help. 
  • Nationally, after saying the country's social distancing rules could be lifted by Easter weekend, President Donald Trump instead extended restrictions until at least April 30.

Read yesterday's live blog here

Cases, deaths back up from Sunday

Total deaths and COVID-19 cases reported are back up after the state reported a low point on Sunday. 

34 new deaths were reported by the Louisiana Department of Health, more than double yesterday's amount (14). It's the second deadliest day so far. 

There are also nearly 500 more positive tests around the state, pushing the total past 4,000 cases. 

The lull may indicate a trend of fewer tests being processed on Sunday, which can be seen in the past two weeks as well. 

New Orleans suffered 13 new deaths, bringing the total to the city to 86 dead and 1,480 known cases. 

Still, New Orleans' growth of positive cases has been flat for three days now, hovering around 50-150 new cases reported in the city each day. 

Jefferson Parish now has 838 cases and 37 deaths, meaning the Jefferson-Orleans metro area accounts for well over half of all cases in Louisiana and nearly 70% of the deaths. 

Cases by parish (SE Louisiana): 

  • Orleans: 1,480 cases, 86 deaths
  • Jefferson: 838 cases, 37 deaths
  • East Baton Rouge: 188 cases, 9 deaths
  • St. John: 75 cases, 8 deaths
  • St. Tammany: 186 cases, 4 death
  • St. Charles: 36 cases, 3 deaths
  • St. James: 65 cases, 3 death
  • St. Bernard 53 cases, 2 deaths
  • Lafourche: 51 cases, 2 deaths 
  • Plaquemines: 22 cases, 2 deaths
  • Terrebonne: 34 cases, 1 deaths
  • Washington: 22 cases, 1 death 
  • Tangipahoa: 18 cases, 0 deaths

St. Tammany Parish's cases climb to 188 over the weekend with four deaths. 

St. John the Baptist Parish, which had a population of around 47,000 in 2017, now has 75 cases and eight deaths. 

105 of those who have died from COVID-19 are 70 years of age or older. 

Anti-malarial medication coming to Louisiana for coronavirus trials 

400,000 tablets of an anti-viral medication that has shown promise in treating coronavirus symptoms are being donated to Louisiana hospitals.

Attorney General Jeff Landry and state senator Fred Mills announced that Amneal Pharmaceuticals is donating pallets of hydroxycholorquine sulfate to the state, one of two drugs that the Food and Drug Administration has authorized to be given to hospitalized COVID-19 patients and doctors for treatment. 

The drug has not gone through the extensive testing necessary to be proven to treat COVID-19 and sparked controversy and confusion when Trump toted it as a potentially game-changing medicine as early as two weeks ago. 

The tablets will be shipped to University Medical Center in New Orleans and the LSU Medical School wings in Baton Rouge and Lafayette. 

They will be used in two separate trials conducted by the LSU School of Medicine: One that prescribes hydroxycholorquine to COVID-19 patients with severe conditions and another that gives it to healthcare workers to test if it prevents catching the virus.  

Read more 

Now 20 virus 'clusters' in Louisiana senior facilities 

The state has reported nine more "clusters," of the virus at nursing homes and other senior living facilities. The additional clusters reported Sunday nearly doubled the previous total, bringing Louisiana to 20 confirmed clusters. 

The state defines a cluster as multiple confirmed coronavirus cases that appear to be linked together. 

At least 11 people have died and more than 40 have contracted coronavirus at the first cluster to be reported: Lambeth House.

Read more 

First federal inmate dies of coronavirus in Louisiana prison

Health experts say prisons and jails are considered a potential epicenter for America’s coronavirus pandemic. 

They are little cities hidden behind tall fences where many people share cells, sit elbow-to-elbow at dining areas and are herded through halls to the yard or prison industry jobs. 

The Bureau of Prisons said Saturday the first federal inmate had died of coronavirus. Officials said Patrick Jones had been housed at FCI Oakdale I, a prison in Louisiana and had “long-term, pre-existing medical conditions." 

Read more 

Morial Convention Center receiving 1,000 beds to house COVID-19 patients

As hospitals continue to take in COVID-19 patients, Gov. John Bel Edwards has a plan to ease some of the strain.

An emergency field hospital is being constructed inside the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans. Sunday, the governor joined Mayor LaToya Cantrell to take a look inside this afternoon.

Within the week, the convention center will open to take in COVID-19 patients if hospitals need relief. 

"We believe this is going to function really well," Governor Edwards said. 

1,000 beds are being added to the convention center with the capacity to add more if needed. It's under construction now and will include individual rooms and nursing stations.

Read more

3 New Orleans area senior living facilities have 'almost no PPE,' hospitals return senior patients

The Notre Dame Health System, which includes three senior living facilities in the New Orleans area, has been struggling to prevent the spread of coronavirus infections because of a lack of access to personal protective gear, administrators said Saturday.

Chateau de Notre Dame, the Our Lady of Wisdom Health Care Center, and Wynhoven Health Care Center have not been able to get more personal protective equipment (PPE).

Chateau de Notre Dame was named as a coronavirus "cluster" by the Louisiana Department of Health, meaning they found multiple related cases of coronavirus in the facility.  

"The PPE equipment is not available at any price," President and CEO of the Notre Dame Health System Wayne Plaisance said.

Read more 

Tools

MORE: Drive-thru COVID-19 testing: What you need to know before you go

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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