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Louisiana Coronavirus Updates: 34 new deaths reported, now 6,424 total cases

March is finally over, but the same challenges and new hurdles remain heading into the new months.

NEW ORLEANS — Read Updates for Thursday, April 2 

Latest Numbers:

  • 273 deaths (+34)
  • 6,424 total cases (+1,187)
  • 1,498 patients hospitalized (+143)
  • 490 in need of ventilators (+52)
  • 60 of 64 parishes reporting cases
  • 44,776 tests completed (+6,809) 

Key Updates:

  • It's been 23 days since the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Louisiana. After a brief slow down in numbers, we saw another big increase Wednesday after the highest jump in deaths and cases Tuesday.
  • The first of the month is here, and many struggling from the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic are paying their bills this week. There is some relief from local, state and federal resources. 
  • There are improved tests and more medical resources on the way to the state, as different communities around Southeast Louisiana are being hit by the deadly respiratory disease.

Read yesterday's live blog here

Jazz Legend Ellis Marsalis dies at 85 while awaiting COVID-19 test results

Ellis Marsalis, the patriarch of a New Orleans musical family, known for his brand of modern jazz as well as for educating generations of musicians as a teacher, has died, according to a family member.  He was 85.

Marsalis had been hospitalized and was tested for coronavirus, but the result was not available Wednesday, the family member told WWL-TV anchor Eric Paulsen.

Read more

Governor: 4 of top 6 parishes or counties in per capita deaths are in Louisiana


Governor John Bel Edwards said Wednesday, after a second day of nearly 1,200 new cases, that Louisiana now has 4 of the top 6 parishes or counties in the country in deaths per capita: St. John the Baptist has the highest rate in the nation, followed by Orleans, two counties in Georgia and then Jefferson and St. Charles parishes.

"We have a lot of work to do across the state of Louisiana," he said. "Not just in Orleans and Jefferson parishes."

He advised that he thought the big surge in case numbers came from a backlog of tests that are coming in, saying that Wednesday's numbers were based on 6,809 tests.

He also wanted to let people know that even though 34 new deaths were reported Wednesday, it did not mean that 34 people died in the last 24 hours.

He said that people could have died a few days ago and that the test to confirm that the death was COVID-19-related may have just come in.

He also warned residents that it may be quite a while before life is back to how we knew it before this outbreak.

"It's going to be a long time before we're back to normal."


St. James, Washington Parishes join St. John with curfews

A nightly, parish-wide curfew is now in effect for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic in St. James, St. John and Washington parishes.

Here are the details:

St. James:  9 pm until 5 am until other notice is given. All pedestrian and vehicular movement will be prohibited during these hours except for travel associated with fire, police, emergency, hospital and the operation of essential services. 

Read more 

Every Southeast Louisiana parish now has a reported COVID-19 death 

Tangipahoa Parish, the last parish in Southeast Louisiana to go without a reported COVID-19 death, lost two residents from the disease. It comes as new cases continued on pace with Tuesday's spike and new deaths decreased. 

With 34 deaths and another 1,1187 cases reported overnight, there are now 273 dead from the new disease and 6,242 cases statewide.

436 new cases and 14 new deaths were registered in Orleans Parish, plus another 240 more cases and seven new deaths in Jefferson Parish. The Metro area now has 3,703 known infected and 179 dead, well over half of the state's totals. 

Cases saw a big jumped in both St. Tammany and Lafourche parishes. In Plaquemines Parish, the total deaths doubled overnight, from two to four. 

It's important to note that the Louisiana Department of Health has not yet been able to track and release data on total recoveries in the state because of the influx of new cases and because testing continues to lag days behind the current situation. 

Cases by parish (SE Louisiana): 

  • Orleans: 2,270 cases, 115 deaths
  • Jefferson: 1,433 cases, 64 deaths
  • St. John: 118 cases, 13 deaths
  • East Baton Rouge: 224 cases, 10 deaths
  • St. Charles: 82 cases, 7 deaths
  • St. Tammany: 270 cases, 6 death
  • Lafourche: 105 cases, 4 deaths
  • St. James: 86 cases, 4 death
  • St. Bernard 94 cases, 3 deaths
  • Plaquemines: 47 cases, 4 deaths
  • Washington: 39 cases, 2 death
  • Tangipahoa: 33 cases, 2 deaths
  • Terrebonne: 55 cases, 1 deaths

Another 143 people had to be hospitalized for COVID-19 treatment, bringing the total to 1,498 in the state. That tally was close to 900 just four days ago on Saturday. 

Of those patients, 490 are now using a ventilator for treatment, a number that has continued to climb between 30 and 50 new people each of the last few days. 

According to LDH data, 22% of all ICU beds in New Orleans remain available, while 38% of ventilators in the city are still available. 

60% of all those who have died from COVID-19 in the state have been 70 years old or up. 

The latest numbers from the LDH come as a near-record daily high of 6,809 tests were processed by labs, largely commercial. 54,776 tests have been completed statewide. 

The COVID-19 death rate in Louisiana now stands at 4.3% of all confirmed cases. 

New testing method at Tulane, UMC gives coronavirus results in hours

Two area hospitals are now able to get their patients' COVID-19 results in as little as four hours thanks to a method of testing recently approved by the FDA. 

Tulane Medical Center and University Medical Center in New Orleans are using new coronavirus tests that yield results within hours, rather than having to wait days to know if someone is infected. They are able to process 200 new tests between the two hospitals. 

It's an important improvement in medical capacity for the metro area, as health officials around the country say faster testing is one of the biggest steps needed to better contain the spread of the contagion.  

The machine, a Cobas 6800 analyzer, can detect the virus in saliva and mucus swab samples from patients. It was approved for coronavirus testing by the FDA last month.

Read more 

Metairie Trader Joe's closes for cleaning after workers test positive

A Trader Joe’s store in Metairie has been closed for cleaning after two employees tested positive for the new coronavirus disease.

In an announcement to customers Tuesday, Trader Joe’s said two of its stores have been closed, including the location at 2949 Veterans Blvd. The company said two employees tested positive for COVID-19. 

The last date that those employees were in the store was March 23.

Read more 

St. John Parish announces nightly curfew

St. John the Baptist Parish officials have put a nightly curfew in place to curb the spread of COVID-19, which has already claimed the lives of at least 12 people in there 46,000-person community. 

The curfew will be enforced by the sheriff's office every night from 9 p.m. until 6 a.m. Only Essential workers are exempt from the rule and essential businesses are allowed to stay open past 9 p.m. 

“The curfew is necessary because of the alarming rise in COVID-19 cases and deaths in St. John Parish,” Sheriff Mike Tregre said. “The curfew will help our officers assure that the governor’s order is being followed for the health and well-being of all of our citizens, as well as help our officers monitor businesses that are closed so that these businesses may remain secure.”

Read more 

What you need to know about paying bills in Louisiana 

It's the first of the month, and many people worry they won't have the funds to make their rent and mortgage payments due to lost jobs and income as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

There is some relief for bills due under Louisiana's Stay-at-home order.

In New Orleans, the city's Department of Housing and Community Development says evictions are not allowed in Orleans Parish until at least May.

In the entire state of Louisiana, evicting a tenant is illegal until at least April 13, because courts are closed to non-emergency action until then.

Read more 

Zulu rocked by coronavirus deaths, members self-quarantine

The weeks since Mardi Gras day have been devastating for Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club. Several members have tested positive for coronavirus, and five have died.

Elroy James, the president of the club, said the virus is dealing a deadly blow to the organization's members. 

"We have, in this month alone, we have experienced the loss of roughly five of our brothers," he said. 

James says the Zulu organization knows of at least three members who died from complications caused by coronavirus, and two more members who have died were waiting for their test results because they likely had it too.

Read more 

St. John Parish reels from rapid coronavirus spread

In his 32 years as coroner for St. John the Baptist Parish, Dr. Christy Montegut says he's never seen anything like the grip coronavirus has on his community.

"Never, this is historic," said Montegut. "We’re having trouble keeping up, but we had probably 14, 15 cases since last Thursday.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, St. John the Baptist Parish, with a 2010 census population of almost 46,000 people and no hospital, has the third highest COVID-19 death rate in the state. The latest numbers from the Louisiana Department of Health show 104 cases with 12 deaths. 

Montegut says because of a lag in reporting, the number of those who died is closer to 20.

Read more 

Louisiana's coronavirus numbers rise sharply, dashing hopes of an early curve

The coronavirus numbers here in New Orleans and across Louisiana are staggering.

They point to a rapidly ascending trajectory in terms of new cases and deaths from the virus.

“I think it’s a reminder to us that we’re still on the up-slope, unfortunately,” epidemiologist Susan Hassig, from the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine said. “It’s very concerning.”

Tuesday, Louisiana saw its deadliest day of the coronavirus outbreak.

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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