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Louisiana Coronavirus Updates: State nears 2,000 COVID-19 deaths, 30K cases

The legislative session is starting back up after being paused for weeks. The session began on March 9, the day the first COVID-19 case was confirmed in the state.

NEW ORLEANS — This live blog has ended. See updates for Tuesday, May 5 here 

Latest Numbers:

  • 1,991 deaths (+22)
  • 29,673 total cases (+333)
  • 1,502 patients in hospitals (-28)
  • 220 patients on ventilators (+7)
  • 64 of 64 parishes reporting cases
  • 20,316 presumed recoveries (+3,013)
  • 180,931 tests performed (+4,771)

Key Updates:

  • Louisiana's legislative session is resuming after being paused for weeks. Coronavirus laws will dominate the agenda for both parties. 
  • Experts say Louisiana's unemployment numbers are new the peak.
  • Riders on RTA buses and streetcars are now required to wear a facemask or covering. 

Read yesterday's live blog

Governor asks for continued distancing during Cinco de Mayo

Governor John Bel Edwards noted that Tuesday is Cinco de Mayo, a day that usually sports a lot of celebrations and large gatherings. He said that people need to continue to do the social distancing and keep dining at restaurants 'outdoor only' with no table service.

Lawmakers differ on mask wearing

Louisiana lawmakers restarted their legislative session Monday in a state reshaped by the coronavirus pandemic. 

Many Republican legislators were not wearing masks, while their Democratic counterparts were doing so. 

They are grappling with new budget troubles, squabbling over what bills should take priority and feuding over whether they should return at all. Republicans want to resume the final four weeks of a session that began March 9 — the same day Louisiana had its first positive coronavirus test. 

Democrats say it’s unsafe to bring hundreds of people into the Capitol. Nearly 2,000 Louisianans have died from the virus, including a House lawmaker.

Republican Senate President Page Cortez and House Speaker Clay Schexnayder are pledging intense cleaning and protective measures.

Read more

Flyover part 2

Did you enjoy the Louisiana National Guard's flyover last Friday? If so, the Blue Angels will be conducting one this Wednesday approximately 1:45 p.m.

They'll be moving a bit faster than the planes were Friday. We don't have an exact route yet, but here's what we do know.

WWOZ DJ Jesse Hathorne dies after COVID-19 struggle

WWOZ DJ Jesse Hathrone died Saturday from COVID-19, the radio station's website said on Sunday.

The 71-year-old DJ was known by many names on air. Depending on which show he was hosting, Hathorne was the Midnight Creeper, the Creeper or Brother Jess.

He hosted "The Creeper's Blue's Parlor," which aired Thursdays from 2 p.m to 4 p.m. The Midnight Creeper also hosted the early Sunday morning show from midnight to 5 a.m., before becoming Brother Jess to hose the Sunday morning gospel show.

WWOZ said Hathorne began volunteering with WWOZ in the early 1990s, and he stayed with the station since.

Read more 

City of New Orleans outlines what is needed to begin reopening

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell and city officials have outlined measures they say it will take to gradually reopen the city of New Orleans to business.

Cantrell, who has been especially cautious as New Orleans became one of the top hotspots in the United States, says health and safety will be the top priorities as the city tries to reopen to more normal commerce.

New Orleans recently has seen a marked decline in the number of cases - and deaths - associated with COVID-19.

Saturday, Cantrell, along with Parish Presidents Cynthia Lee Sheng of Jefferson Parish, Guy McInnis of St. Bernard and Kirk Lepine of Plaquemines Parish sent out a joint letter supporting Governor Edwards’ decision to extend the Stay at Home Order until May 15, something that has met with some pushback from Republican leaders in the Louisiana Legislature and some business leaders.

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Louisiana unemployment numbers will peak soon, expert says

The Department of Labor recently released another week of unemployment claims numbers, and the data shows more than 25 million unemployment claims across the nation. 

WWLTV’s Paul Dudley spoke with Money Geek’s Doug Milnes, who is familiar with unemployment trends across America.

“In Louisiana, just about 22% of the workforce has filed for unemployment insurance in the last six weeks,” Milnes said. “Based on data from the Dept. of Labor, that's about 460,000 workers who have filed for unemployment.” 

Money Geek's current forecast for peak unemployment in Louisiana is 29 percent and based on this last week of numbers it seems like Louisiana has reached the peak or is very near to reaching those levels, Milnes said.

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Facemasks required to ride streetcars, buses: New Orleans officials 

People who rely on public transportation learned facemasks are required when riding the bus or streetcar.

During a news conference Friday, Mayor LaToya Cantrell said the goal of the mask is to make sure people stay healthy.

"To protect them and our employees and other riders that may be on a streetcar or bus line," Cantrell said.

Many people who take the bus agree that it's important to wear a mask to prevent the coronavirus from spreading.

"You never know who has it. You could have it. I could have it — you never know," Ed Scott who took the bus said.

Regional Transit Authority leaders said riders can also wear a scarf, bandana, or cloth mask to protect yourself.

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New Orleans school leaders preparing for new normal when students return, what to do if they can't 

New Orleans schools are looking ahead to what classes will look like when students can return and what to do in the Fall if they can’t.

Dr. Henderson Lewis, Superintendent of New Orleans Public Schools (NOLA-PS), joined Paul Dudley on the Eyewitness Morning News Sunday to talk about what the Fall could look like for students.

“When schools reopen it probably will not look like what we saw in previous school years,” Lewis said. “We’ve been working with our school leaders to prepare for a school year … How we will limit gatherings in schools, how we will reduce the number of students in a classroom at a time. How we will make sure that students are coming into schools, how we’re doing wellness checks and (checking) temperatures.”

As for when students may return, there is no official date yet, but Lewis said that students could return slightly earlier than usual to make up for time lost this current schools year.

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'You're not alone': Northshore group plans run for Mental Health Awareness Month

With state and local measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus,  many people in South East Louisiana have been staying in isolation because of the pandemic.

That isolation may be more difficult for some than others. Social distancing and isolation may affect people with mental health issues more severely, and a Northshore group wants people to know.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and Jason Paulin is working to make people in the New Orleans area more aware of that.

After losing eight friends to mental health issues, Paulin was inspired to host a 24-hour relay run, and his goal is to make people aware of mental health resources available to them.

"Isolation is probably one of the worst things we can do, and I know people are struggling," Paulin said. "You're not the only person struggling. We want to break the stigma. There's nothing wrong with asking for help. It's OK."

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22-year-old hospitalized for coronavirus, mom staying connected through FaceTime

A 22-year-old Hammond woman is at North Oaks hospital after being diagnosed with the coronavirus. The woman's mother says she's only been able to see her once since she entered the hospital. 

Byronesha Jackson’s mother, Shirell Jackson, says the situation is improving now after weeks of fear. 

"I just got an update last night about her situation," Shirell Jackson told WWL-TV's Paul Dudley Sunday morning. "It’s improved so much. She actually left the ICU of North Oaks last night and went to a private room setting..

Shirell says Byronesha is down from needing 100% oxygen to 10%, but still has a long road ahead of her.

Byronesha's health concerns began about two weeks ago, when she complained of a headache. As Shirell explains, she was tired, had body aches and felt fatigued.

Read more 



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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