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Louisiana Coronavirus Updates: Now 702 dead, 18,293 cases after 31 days of COVID-19 in state

A month into the pandemic in Louisiana, health officials are now cautiously optimistic the coronavirus is plateauing in the New Orleans area.

NEW ORLEANS — This live blog has ended. See updates for Friday, April 10 here 

Latest Numbers:

  • 702 deaths (+50)
  • 18,283 total cases (+1,253)
  • 2,014 patients in hospitals (+31)
  • 473 in need of ventilators (-17)
  • 63 of 64 parishes reporting cases
  • 86,919 tests completed (+5,513)

Key Updates:

  • One month ago, the first known case of COVID-19 in Louisiana presented itself in a sick New Orleans residents. At that point, at the start of what feels to many like one of the longest months of their lives, people were mostly concerned about if parades and second lines would be cancelled. 
  • Since that point, 702 Louisianians have died from the new virus and thousands have been hospitalized. Hundreds need life-saving ventilators to keep breathing. The disease has reached all but one parish across the state. There are 18,283 confirmed cases, although the actual number of infected is much greater. 
  • With the disease hitting the elderly and those with underlying health issues especially hard, Governor John Bel Edwards says there's reason to believe the virus is finally plateauing in Louisiana: While deaths are at a high, cases are slowing down and the state is no longer facing an imminent shortage of medical resources.
  • Businesses and workers are fighting to adapt to stay-at-home orders put in place to curb the spread of the virus. Community support has been incredible across the board but many still desperately await federal funds that have a questionable date of arrival.

Read yesterday's blog

Deaths lower slightly as numbers largely remain flat 

The Louisiana Department of Health reported 50 new coronavirus deaths Thursday after reporting 70 deaths in a row both days prior, the highest-daily morality number in the month since COVID-19 presented in the state. 

The number of ventilators in use decreased for the third day in a row, down 17 to 473, in line with the governor's latest updates that New Orleans is no longer in immediate danger of running out of the crucial respiratory device. 

The number of people in Louisiana hospitals for COVID-19 dropped for the first time yesterday but rose again Thursday by 31, bringing the total to 2,014. 

Another 1,253 cases were reported out of the 5,513 new processed coronavirus tests on the LDH records. There are now 18,283 total confirmed cases in Louisiana, putting the death rate at around 3.9%, -- much closer to the national average of 3.5%. The number of recoveries is not available from the health department. 

New Orleans and Jefferson Parish suffered 25 Thursday's 50 reported deaths and 560, or 45%, of the new cases.  

Cases by parish (SE Louisiana):

  • Orleans: 5,242 cases, 224 deaths
  • Jefferson: 4,480 cases, 158 deaths
  • East Baton Rouge: 1,000 cases, 36 deaths
  • St. John: 477 cases, 35 deaths
  • St. Charles: 362 cases, 22 deaths
  • St. Tammany: 777 cases, 19 death
  • Terrebonne: 233 cases, 13 deaths
  • Lafourche: 393 cases, 11 deaths
  • St. Bernard 304 cases, 10 deaths
  • Plaquemines: 129 cases, 8 deaths
  • Washington: 119 cases, 8 death
  • St. James: 181 cases, 7 death
  • Tangipahoa: 283 cases, 5 deaths

How to safely get food delivery during coronavirus pandemic

Opting for takeout meals and food delivery can still be a healthy and convenient way to feed the family while supporting local businesses that are being hard hit during the coronavirus outbreak. However, following safe food handling guidelines remains important.

There is no evidence to support COVID-19 transmission associated with food consumption, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But it may be possible for a person to contract the virus by touching a surface or object that has the living virus on it and then touching their mouth, nose or eyes, said LSU AgCenter nutrition agent Quincy Vidrine.

“It’s important for consumers to take extra precautions in the wake of this outbreak and be hypervigilant in taking every measure to ensure the safety of their families,” Vidrine said.

These extreme measures are creating an increased awareness for food safety and instilling greater diligence in proper handwashing and sanitation in day-to-day activities, she said.

Read more 

Coronavirus hitting River Parishes hard with some of the highest death rates in the country

The surge of COVID-19 cases that has ravaged Orleans and Jefferson parishes is now hitting upriver.

Following the early mortality that placed New Orleans’ urban center among the highest per capita death rates in the country, a new wave has hit the river parishes of St. John, St. Charles and St. James, statistics show.

St. John Parish, with 35 deaths as of Wednesday, doesn't just have the highest per capita death rate in Louisiana, but highest in the entire country, with 81 deaths per 100,000 residents as of Wednesday.

St. Charles, with 19 deaths, and much smaller St. James, with 7 deaths, also rank in the top 20 nationally, with per capita death rates of 35.9 and 33.3 percent respectively.

“It's not just, quote, an inner city problem. It's related to uncontrolled risk factors,” Dr. Keith Ferdinand, Tulane Medical Center cardiologist. “Heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes. Any areas where these factors are prevalent are going to see a higher death rate."

Read more 

Healthy workers disembark Carnival Valor to head to home countries, COVID-19 patients remain

The Carnival Valor pulled into its homeport, the Port of New Orleans, Wednesday evening, so hundreds of healthy workers on board could return to theirs.

The ship had been docked at the Port of Gulfport for weeks, holding only crew members and no passengers, since the coronavirus pandemic accelerated in mid-March.

All 27 ships in Carnival’s fleet have been docked or anchored at sea with no guests on board since then.

Gov. John Bel Edwards announced the Valor’s move at a weekday press briefing.

“300 crew members on board who have tested negative for COVID-19 and who do not have any symptoms, will get off the ship,” Gov. Edwards said.

But several crew members who tested positive for the virus were also staying on the Carnival Valor. The governor did not say how many will remain on the ship.

“Other crew members who have tested positive will stay on the cruise ship. They will not get off,” said Gov. Edwards. “And right now, none of those individuals require hospitalization. However, if any of them do require hospitalization, we will take those individuals into our hospitals.”

Read more 

Walmart closing 3 stores in Orleans, Jefferson Parishes for deep clean

Three local Walmart stores are closed Thursday, April 9, for a deep clean in order to protect customers and employees from the coronavirus.

According to a statement from Walmart, the stores on Tchoupitoulas Street and Bullard Avenue in New Orleans as well as the store on Jefferson Highway in Harahan will be closed for one day to allow “third-party specialists” to sanitize the stores.

They will all reopen at 7 a.m. on Friday, April 10.

Read more 

Have auto insurance? You'll likely get a refund due to 'Stay at Home' from coronavirus

If you have auto insurance with a national company you may be seeing a refund of 15 percent of your policies for April and May.

Several companies have made public announcements about the refunds or reductions in premiums while others are saying they are looking at a way to benefit their customers.

Driving around town on any given day you can see that automobile travel is way down. Morning and afternoon rush hours just aren't present and the lack of travel has translated into a lack of accidents and payouts.

If you have a policy with a national insurer that is not on the list, you may wish to inquire as they may be pressured to follow suit.

Read more 

Retired Air Force cancer patient recovers from COVID-19

Sitting outside their Metairie home, Louis and Tara Reese were happy to be next to each other. 

“It’s just a miracle, really,” said Tara Reese.

Just a few days ago they couldn’t be close at all. Louis was isolated in a hospital room, while his wife and two kids worried at home.  

“I was in bad shape,” said Louis Reese.

With 24 years in the military, this Air Force veteran knows how to prepare for battle, but he never expected a battle for his life, against an enemy he couldn’t see.

It was COVID-19. He tested positive soon after he was found to have a fever when he went for chemotherapy because of colon cancer. That was March 10th, and he only got worse from there. 

“I actually told my wife that I was afraid to go to sleep because I was afraid I wouldn’t wake up again,” said Louis Reese.

Read more 

Glitches delay federal relief for small business, unemployed

Small businesses in the New Orleans area are struggling financially because of the Coronavirus outbreak.

To make matters worse, they are also having little success accessing the billions of dollars in SBA loans, set aside by Congress to pay employees and business expenses for the next two months.

“We’ve not processed one (loan) because of the system glitches that we’ve seen over the past two days,” Jefferson Financial Credit Union President and CEO Mark Rosa said.

Rosa said because of the glitches, the Paycheck Protection Program has pretty much been on hold.

The program provides forgivable loans up to $10 million to small businesses in distress.

According to Rosa, the SBA website crashed on Tuesday and right now there’s a lot of unanswered questions about the loans.

Read more 

Second Harvest Food Bank works to feed New Orleans residents as needs grow

Thousands of residents across Southeast Louisiana have sought free food from Second Harvest as unemployment across the area soars due to the coronavirus pandemic, representatives with the largest charitable food network in the region said Wednesday.

According to Luella Provenza, chief impact officer at Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans, 450 people showed up at the Elmwood distribution center just last week. 

It was too much for the location to handle and the food bank has since added more drive-thru events, organized by Second Harvest and their many partners in different districts over the last few weeks. 

Provenza estimates they’ve helped anywhere between 500 to 1,200 households at each of the food bank’s 12 events.

Read more 

Tyler Perry pays for elderly shoppers' groceries at 29 Louisiana Winn-Dixie stores

The people most vulnerable during the coronavirus pandemic got an amazing surprise Wednesday morning when they found entertainment mogul Tyler Perry had paid for their groceries.

Perry footed the bill for shoppers during Winn-Dixie’s special hour for elderly and high risk shoppers at all 29 Winn-Dixie locations in Louisiana and 44 Kroger grocery stores around the Atlanta area.

Winn-Dixie customers were shocked when they went to check out and were given a note that their purchases had been completed covered by Perry, the New Orleans-born writer, actor, producer and comedian behind the "Madea" series.

Shoppers were handed a piece of paper that said “Random act of kindness. Present to cashier before 8 a.m.

Read more 


MORE: Drive-thru coronavirus test locations in Southeast Louisiana

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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