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Louisiana Coronavirus Updates: 65 dead, 1795 cases statewide -- another jump in positive tests

The state has experienced another huge day-to-day increase in total confirmed cases, deaths and tests.

NEW ORLEANS — Read Live Updates for Thursday, March 26

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Latest Numbers:

  • 65 deaths (+19) 
  • 1,795 total cases (+407)
  • 11,451 tests completed (+2,848)  
  • 48 of 64 parishes reporting cases

Key Updates:

  • 65 Louisianians have died from COVID-19, the deadly respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus. Nearly 1,800 people across the state have tested positive for the virus out of the roughly 11,450 whose results have been processed.
  • President Donald Trump has approved Gov. John Bel Edwards request for a disaster declaration in Louisiana, meaning the federal government can now reimburse state and local governments for the costs of battling the coronavirus. So far, the state has spent $71 million responding to the pandemic.
  • The White House and Senate leaders of both parties have agreed on unprecedented emergency legislation to rush sweeping aid to businesses, workers and a health care system slammed by the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The new virus is impacting New Orleans' first responders, with NOFD, NOPD and EMS personnel either infected or in quarantine after coming into contact with COVID-19. This comes as the agencies are fielding a huge spike in 911 calls, so much so that the state is now sending more ambulances to the city. 

Read yesterday's live blog

Virus deaths in New Orleans up by more than 40% in a day; several SE Louisiana parishes experience first deaths 

New Orleans suffered 11 new coronavirus deaths from yesterday, a 42% increase that brings the total dead to 37 in the parish. 

Lafourche, St. Charles, St. John the Baptist and St. Bernard parishes have also experienced their first COVID-19 deaths. In total, 65 people have died from the virus.

St. John Parish saw both its first and second deaths in the same day. Both patients were in their 60s and were being treated in other parishes. 

"Now more than ever, we have a vital role in ensuring our community, especially those at high risk, are safe and healthy," parish president Jaclyn Hotard said.

"Please keep the victims and their families in your prayers, and for everyone's sake, stay home, don't gather and continue taking all necessary measures to flatten the curve."  

Cases by parish (SE Louisiana): 

  • Orleans: 827 cases, 37 deaths
  • Jefferson: 359 cases, 7 deaths
  • East Baton Rouge: 75 cases, 3 deaths
  • St. John: 27 cases, 2 deaths
  • St. Tammany: 67 cases, 1 death
  • St. Bernard: 23 cases, 1 deaths
  • Lafourche: 18 cases, 1 deaths 
  • St. Charles: 17 cases, 1 deaths
  • St. James: 14 cases, 1 death
  • Washington: 4 cases, 1 death 
  • Terrebonne: 15 cases, no deaths
  • Plaquemines: 9 cases, no deaths
  • Tangipahoa: 5 cases, 0 death

There are now 1,795 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, a 23% increase in a day. 11,451 tests in total have been processed, nearly 9,500 of which came out of a commercial lab. 

Of the 65 fatal COVID-19 cases, 34 patients have been over the age of 70. The second-most fatal group is people in their 50s, with 14 total deaths. 

There are still less than 10 confirmed COVID-19 cases involving anyone younger than 18.  

The spike in both deaths and cases, specifically in Orleans Parish, marks another day of significant, sustained growth of COVID-19's spread in Louisiana. 

More drive-thru testing sites open in Southeast Louisiana

Seven drive-thru coronavirus testing sites in three Southeast Louisiana parishes will be operational by the end of the week. 

Four locations are already open in Orleans Parish, one is open on the west bank of Jefferson Parish and two will open in Terrebonne Parish. Requirements to be tested, including whether or not you need to be a first responder or if you need pre-screening, vary by location.

A drive-thru location organized by LCMC Health is now open at the New Orleans East Hospital. 

Read more 

Congressional leaders, White House agree on coronavirus rescue package

The White House and Senate leaders of both parties announced agreement early Wednesday on unprecedented emergency legislation to rush sweeping aid to businesses, workers and a health care system slammed by the coronavirus pandemic.

The urgently needed pandemic response measure is the largest economic rescue measure in history and is intended as a weeks- or months-long patch for an economy spiraling into recession and a nation facing a potentially ghastly toll.

The unprecedented economic rescue package would give direct payments to most Americans, expand unemployment benefits and provide a $367 billion program for small businesses to keep making payroll while workers are forced to stay home.

Read more 

President Trump declares coronavirus disaster in Louisiana: Here's what it means

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.

The declaration frees up more direct federal aid for Louisiana’s state and city governments to combat the surging coronavirus outbreak. The U.S. government will reimburse the state for the costs of battling the coronavirus, which has so far spent $71 million responding to the pandemic. 

Louisiana now joins New York, California, Washington and Iowa in coronavirus disaster status. The declaration reflects the Pelican State's dangerous rate of COVID-19 spread, a statistic that tops the nation yet has received little national attention in comparison to the coasts.

Gov. John Bel Edwards said Tuesday that Louisiana could run out of hospital beds soon.

Read more 

28 New Orleans EMS employees quarantined, 'surge' ambulances coming 

More than half of the employees working for New Orleans EMS have been exposed to COVID-19, the potentially deadly disease caused by the coronavirus. But most of those employees will continue to work because they are not showing symptoms, the agency said. 

At least 94 of NOEMS's 170 employees have been in contact with the disease since Louisiana's outbreak began and meet the criteria for quarantine, according to a statement released Tuesday.  

The state will be sending "surge ambulances" to areas with heavy coronavirus spread, including Orleans Parish. More ambulances will be assigned to New Orleans EMS's fleet daily, the agency said. 

To man the ambulances, New Orleans EMS has temporarily amended their policy, allowing basic life support transports (which are staffed by EMTs instead of paramedics) to respond to calls.

Read more 

S&WB relying on estimated water bills as coronavirus causes staff shortage

Sewerage and Water Board officials say the new coronavirus has caused a significant shortage in the utility's manpower and, as a result, they will now have to rely solely on estimating customers' bills. 

"Very few" S&WB employees have tested positive for COVID-19, the potentially life-threatening respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus, officials said. However, additional workers have been exposed and are under quarantine, making the utility unable to fill its ranks of water meter readers.

For the portion of the roughly 137,000 S&WB customers who were scheduled to have their meters read manually this week, this means they'll now be charged based on the average of their daily water usage over the past four months.

Officials said all discrepancies in estimating will be processed once they return to full meter-reading practices, and customer accounts will be credited based off the differences in actual water usage. 

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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