NEW ORLEANS — Read updates for Wednesday, March 25 

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Latest Numbers:

  • 46 deaths
  • 1,388 total cases
  • 43 of 64 parishes report cases
  • 271 hospitalized / 94 on ventilators 
  • 8,603 tests conducted

Key Updates:

  • There are now 46 dead from the new virus in Louisiana, with more than half coming from New Orleans. There are nearly 1,400 cases statewide, as more tests continue to be processed from commercial labs. 
  • The first day of Gov. John Bel Edwards' 'Stay at Home' order is now in effect across the state, closing more businesses and limiting gatherings down to essential tasks only in an effort to stop the spread of the new coronavirus through social distancing. Grand Isle has also closed its beaches and piers. 
  • Governor Edwards has also requested an emergency disaster declaration from the federal government for aid in fighting the coronavirus pandemic. If signed, Louisiana would join New York, California and Washington in disaster status. 
  • A significant portion of the New Orleans Fire Department has been exposed to COVID-19 and is struggling to fill its already-depleted ranks as more firefighters become symptomatic.  

President Trump signs Major Disaster Declaration for Louisiana

President Donald Trump has approved Louisiana’s request for a Major Disaster Declaration, opening access to more federal aid to combat coronavirus in the state.

Read more 

New Orleans grows as epicenter of pandemic, with 26 deaths 

Tuesday's case numbers from the Louisiana Department of Health confirm the exponential nature of the new coronavirus. 

There are now 46 deaths in the state, up 35% from yesterday, and confirmed cases are now at 1,388, an increase of about a sixth of yesterday's total cases. Looking at the LDH's map, the spread of COVID-19 roughly follows interstates 10 and 49 across the state. 

There was another huge day-to-day increase in total tests, about 30%, to 8,603 tests total. A majority of tests are coming from commercial labs rather than the LDH's state lab. 

Most recently, the LDH has started providing information on totals of patients hospitalized by COVID-19. This will give a more accurate assessment of the pandemic in regard to hospital capacity and spread rate, regardless of total tests. 

Currently, 271 COVID-19 patients are hospitalized. Of those, 94 patients require ventilation. The total number of those who have recovered is not yet readily available from the LDH. 

Orleans Parish now has 675 total cases and 26 deaths. Jefferson has 293 cases and six deaths. St. Tammany Parish reported the first passing of a Louisiana resident from COVID-19 and has 52 cases total. 

New Orleans' cases alone grew by more than a sixth from yesterday, with deaths in the parish growing by 25%. 

Cases by parish (SE Louisiana): 

  • Orleans 675 cases, 26 deaths
  • Jefferson 293 cases, 6 deaths
  • St. Tammany 52 cases, 1 death 
  • East Baton Rouge 58 cases, 2 deaths 
  • Lafourche 16 cases, no deaths 
  • Terrebonne 14 cases, no deaths
  • St. Charles 15 cases, no deaths
  • Washington 3 cases, 1 death 
  • Tangipahoa 4 cases, 1 death
  • Plaquemines 8 cases, no deaths
  • St. Bernard 19 cases, no deaths
  • St. John 21 cases, no deaths
  • St. James 9 cases, 1 death

Age groups from 40 to 70+ are now all comparable in total COVID-19 cases, with 260-280 cases in each group. There are also now more than 100 confirmed cases in people ages 18-29. 

25 of the state's 46 deaths, or 54%, have been people older than 70. The group with the second most fatalities is people in their 50s, with 10 total. 

58% of all COVID-19 patients in Louisiana are female, a figure that continues to increase in that direction. 

Louisiana asks for major disaster declaration as coronavirus intensifies

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards has requested a major disaster declaration from the federal government to help respond to the state's increasing amount of COVID-19 cases. 

If approved, Louisiana wold join New York, California and Washington in acquiring disaster status to fight the new coronavirus pandemic, which has already led to 34 deaths in the Pelican State and threatens to overwhelm the New Orleans metro area hospital system by the first week of April, according to Edwards.  

"We have overwhelmed our stocks of key resources needed for our hospitals, first responders and emergency managers," Edwards said Tuesday. "There will be a long-lasting impact on the state of Louisiana, and we have taken aggressive mitigation measures to fight the spread of COVID-19." 

According to Edwards and the Louisiana Department of Health, Louisiana is suffering from the highest rate of confirmed COVID-19 cases in not only the country, but the world.

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New Orleans working to get homeless off the streets during COVID-19 crisis

State and local officials are scrambling to move homeless people out of encampments where they fear coronavirus will spread quickly.

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s administration said it’s working with the state to find housing for 90 to 120 homeless people, a population that homeless service groups say is the population of one of the large camps in downtown New Orleans – the one under the Pontchartrain Expressway on Calliope Street or another under the Interstate-10 on North Claiborne Avenue.

Martha Kegel, executive director of UNITY of Greater New Orleans, said there are about 1,200 homeless people living in New Orleans and Jefferson Parish, with the latest surveys estimating that 430 of them live on the streets.

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54 New Orleans firefighters have had contact with coronavirus, NOFD short on manpower

Already depleted from attrition, the New Orleans Fire Department is now struggling with another crisis: the Covid-19 pandemic.

NOFD union chief Aaron Mischler said he has received an unofficial count of 54 firefighters who have tested positive for the virus or received contact tracing notification that they were in contact with someone who has. The department has 480 firefighters on the force, a modern-day low.

In between fighting fires, the New Orleans Fire Department is frequently asked to go on medical calls. That has put many firefighters in direct contact with the virus.

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Rats becoming a problem in New Orleans as people empty restaurants, streets

The city says it’s ramping up its use of rat bait in commercial areas, starting by placing rat traps on the sidewalks and bait into the catch basins on Bourbon Street and spreading out to the Central Business District and down Magazine Street.

“It’s driving our rodents crazy,” Mayor LaToya Cantrell said Sunday, referring to the unintended consequences of restaurants that are either closed or send all their food orders out for delivery or pick-up.

Claudia Riegel, executive director of the New Orleans Mosquito, Termite and Rodent Control Board said the new search for food is sending the normally cloistered rats scurrying into the open.

“Unfortunately, with these businesses being shut down, these rats are hungry,” she said.

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St. Tammany public schools suspend 'grab and go' meal program

St. Tammany Parish Public Schools have suspended their “grab and go” meal program for families in need.

Superintendent Trey Folse said the school system is looking for alternative ways to get food to students while schools are closed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

According to the statement from the school system, statewide meal distribution programs may soon come into play.

The program ran for four  and provided a total of 45,538 meals to families.

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Grand Isle closing beaches, public fishing piers to slow COVID-19 outbreak

Grand Isle has closed all beaches, playgrounds and public fishing piers in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus, according to Grand Isle Police Chief Laine Landry.

All golf cart use on the island will also be suspended, along with short-term rentals.

The order went into effect at 5 p.m. on Monday, March 23 and lasts until at least April 13.

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 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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