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Louisiana Coronavirus Updates: 1,103 deaths, 21,951 cases statewide

Governor John Bel Edwards says reopening the state won't be "like flipping a light switch" and may include businesses opening on different time frames.

NEW ORLEANS — This blog has ended. See updates for Thursday, April 16 here 

Latest Numbers:

  • 1,103 deaths (+90)
  • 21,951 total cases (+433)
  • 1,943 patients in hospitals (-34)
  • 425 in need of ventilators (-11)
  • 64 of 64 parishes reporting cases
  • 121,928 tests completed (+3,506)

Key Updates:

  • Governor John Bel Edwards says reopening the state won't be "like flipping a light switch" and may include businesses opening on different time frames. 
  • New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell recommends no large events in the city until 2021. 
  • The Louisiana presidential primary elections have been moved back again, this time to July 11. 
  • New data from the state health department shows that, on average, patients die from the disease about 11 days after showing symptoms.

Read yesterday's live blog

Another huge death toll counted Wednesday

The Louisiana Department of Health reported 90 more COVID-19 deaths in their daily update Wednesday, 41% of which came out of Jefferson Parish. 

Between the latest LDH report and yesterday's high of 129 counted death, a fifth of the total virus deaths in the state's outbreak have been reported in just the last two days. 

There are now 1,103 coronavirus-related deaths in Louisiana.

37 deaths came out of Jefferson Parish, which now has 247 total losses from the virus out of 5,265 reported cases there. Jefferson and Orleans parish now account for 48% of the deaths in the state, with New Orleans at 287 dead and 5,769 cases. 

The increase in deaths bucks a downward trend over the last few days that followed two consecutive days of previous highs (70) last week. It's important to note that these morbid numbers take several days to assess from across the state -- It does not indicate that 70 people died between Tuesday and Wednesday. 

With more than 1,100 dead in Louisiana, Governor John Bel Edwards on Tuesday said the state "took a step back in the COVID-19 battle." However, the morbidity rate, while crucial, does not reflect how the virus is slowing in other areas.  

Cases across the state only increased by 433 (or 2%) Wednesday, continuing the slowdown of cases in the state. Health officials attribute this to successful social distancing. 

While the LDH still does not release information on recoveries, the amount of people in the hospital and on ventilators continues to trend in the right direction.

A vast majority of COVID-19 cases, 87% in Louisiana, have not resulted in hospitalization or death. Still, it's not possible to know exact recoveries (including those who have been infected but did not get tested).

In New Orleans, only 51 new cases were reported Wednesday, continuing signs of a rapid slowdown in cases. In Jefferson Parish, only 71 new cases were reported. Those are .9% and 1.5% increases, respectively.  

Cases by parish (SE Louisiana):

  • Orleans: 5,769 cases, 287 deaths
  • Jefferson: 5,265 cases, 247 deaths
  • East Baton Rouge: 1,325 cases, 62 deaths
  • St. Tammany: 924 cases, 60 death
  • St. John: 569 cases, 47 deaths
  • St. Charles: 476 cases, 26 deaths
  • Terrebonne: 273 cases, 18 deaths
  • Lafourche: 499 cases, 15 deaths
  • Tangipahoa: 418 cases, 15 deaths
  • St. James: 210 cases, 13 death
  • Plaquemines: 147 cases, 11 deaths
  • St. Bernard 383 cases, 10 deaths
  • Washington: 173 cases, 10 death

Essence Festival 2020 cancelled

A day after Mayor LaToya Cantrell recommended all large events in 2020 be cancelled in the city because of the coronavirus, ESSENCE announced they will no longer hold this year's annual festival. 

“New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell bravely recommended yesterday that no large events take place in New Orleans in 2020, and ESSENCE fully supports that decision," organizers said in a statement Wednesday.

ESSENCE Festival organizers say they will honor all tickets sold for the 2020 Festival in 2021 and will also offer full refunds. More information can be found on the festival website.

Organizers said they came to the decision after working with city and state officials and tracking the progression of COVID-19 across Louisiana and the country.

Read more 

Fall may be too soon for major festivals to return to New Orleans, mayor says 

We are in the heart of what should be the New Orleans festival season.

This week should have been French Quarter Festival followed by two consecutive weeks of Jazz Fest. Both have now been postponed until this fall.

Public health experts are concerned fall may be too soon to allow tens of thousands of people to gather in such close proximity.

Mayor LaToya Cantrell weighed in on Tuesday, saying that she believes no large events should be held in New Orleans for the rest of the year.

"My recommendation is absolutely no large events such as French Quarter Fest and Jazz Fest, even Essence Festival (in 2020)," Cantrell said. "The focus should shift to 2021."

The Mayor said she's spoken with festival organizers and expects an official announcement to come soon.

Read more 

Two Louisiana election days pushed back again due to coronavirus

Two upcoming election days in Louisiana, including the state’s presidential preference primary, have been pushed back again due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards announced Tuesday that the state’s presidential preference primary election will now be scheduled for July 11. A general election that had been set for July 25 has been rescheduled to August 15.

Read more 

Gov. Edwards: Social distancing, masks, testing will be part of reopening Louisiana

The transition back to normal life in Louisiana has been on a lot of people’s minds, but what will that look like?

“I can tell you social distancing is going to be part of our future for some period of time,” Edwards said. “Wearing a mask when you’re out in public is going to be a part of what we do. Staying at home when you’re sick is going to be part of what we do. I think you’re going to see your temperature be taken more than it’s ever been taken in order to be admitted to certain places. That’s the sort of thing we can anticipate for some period of time.”

The governor emphasized that it won’t be “like flipping a light switch.” The plan could involved certain geographic areas or different business sectors being reopened on different time frames.

Read more 

Gov: Most Louisiana COVID-19 deaths happened 11 days after symptoms appeared

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards says that most deaths in the state from the coronavirus disease happened 11 days after the onset of symptoms.

It's based off the latest data compiled by the Louisiana Department of Health. 

Edwards once again reiterated the need for residents to obey the statewide stay-at-home order “because just as the positive things we do now will save lives in the future, the negative things we do could threaten lives as well.”

Read more 

Iconic Lower 9th Ward storefront leans on community to weather coronavirus troubles

With the city on emergency shut-down over the past month, Burnell Cotlon has seen many of his regular customers lose their jobs. Others are barely scraping by. Some have asked if they can buy food on credit. Others have resorted to more desperate measures.

“One lady, she was stealing meat,” he recounted. “I have cameras everywhere, so I caught her. Instead of me calling the police, I gave her a broom and I told her to sweep up around the store.”

Now Cotlon finds himself stretched to the brink, frequently collecting IOUs in a credit ledger instead of getting paid in cash. Tragically, one customer with a $70 tab died from the virus.

Read more 

Unused RV campers repurposed as quarantine housing for healthcare workers

If you have an RV, chances are you’re not using it right now, but lots of RV owners are starting to put them to good use, thanks to social media and a need during this COVID-19 pandemic.

It started out as a grassroots social media campaign three weeks ago. Now, “RV’s 4 MDs” has almost 28,000 Facebook members, connecting medical workers with RV owners.

They’re on the front lines at hospitals caring for patients battling COVID-19, but when all those doctors and nurses go home, the battle is how to keep their families safe from possible exposure.

 “I really feel like it’s important to protect the people who are protecting us,” said Amy Garner, from the Northshore, who’s a volunteer with the Louisiana chapter of “RVs 4 MDs.

Read more 

Scammers coming for stimulus checks; How to protect yourself

As millions of Americans begin to receive stimulus checks to help alleviate the effects of the recession caused by COVID-19, scammers are taking the health crisis as an opportunity to access personal banking information, according to Ernie Burns with Burns Estate Planning & Wealth Advisors.

Burns recommends avoiding phishing emails and phony websites that look official. Do not respond to calls or texts from unknown or suspicious numbers. Never share personal or financial information via email, text message or over the phone. Do not click links in any suspicious emails or text messages. If you believe you’ve been a victim of a coronavirus scam, contact law enforcement immediately.

Read more 

Clancy: Louisiana reaches 1,000 COVID-19 deaths at pivotal moment

Benchmarks help us put things in perspective. Sadly, Louisiana’s latest benchmark — more than 1,000 COVID-19 deaths — is a stark reminder of just how vulnerable we remain to the dreaded pandemic.

It also comes just as people across Louisiana, and especially in metro New Orleans, were beginning to hold out hope that maybe, just maybe, we were beginning to flatten the curve. And hopefully, we are!

But the truth is we still have a long way to go. So, as Governor John Bel Edwards and other responsible leaders keep reminding us, we have to continue following the stay-at-home order.

Now more than ever, we need to be steadfast. To make that curve fall, we need to stay the course. And that means staying at home.

Read more 

Transfusions from people who beat COVID-19 show promising results

Monday night, we told you about the first three people in the state to get a transfusion of antibodies from the blood of people who recovered from COVID-19.

Those patients are already showing signs of recovery.

About 10 days ago, East Jefferson internal medicine doctor Hector Montalvo, started feeling fatigued and lost his appetite. He started to go down fast and was put in ICU on a ventilator.  

Another local physician, Dr. Robert Jeanfreau, is working on a clinical trial through the Mayo Clinic, treating sick people with the blood antibodies of those who recovered from the virus. Through that, Dr. Montalvo got a transfusion late Saturday night. It was a first in this region. He’s now sitting up and on a liquid diet.

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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