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Louisiana Coronavirus Updates: Number of hospitalized patients increases as new cases steady

As the number of new coronavirus cases continues to level in Louisiana, public focus is increasingly shifting to re-opening the state's economy.

NEW ORLEANS — This live blog has ended. See updates for Tuesday, April 21 here

Latest Numbers:

  • 1,328 deaths (+32)
  • 24,523 total cases (+595)
  • 1,794 patients in hospitals (+46)
  • 332 patients on ventilators (-16)
  • 64 of 64 parishes reporting cases
  • 141,561 tests completed  

Key Updates: 

  • Coronavirus hospitalizations have fallen in Louisiana, increasingly shifting public focus to re-opening the state's economy. 
  • Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards says the state is working to make more non-emergency medical procedures available to residents before May 1.
  • Louisiana’s new health secretary, Courtney Phillips, has started the job amid the coronavirus outbreak.
  • As hurricane season approaches, Gov. Edwards says the coronavirus will change the way the state will respond to severe weather.

Read yesterday's live blog 

Several SE Louisiana parishes see uptick in cases after weekend lows 

Hospitalizations for COVID-19 increased slightly after several days of dropping, according to the latest numbers from the Louisiana Department of Health

The total number of patients in the hospital has dropped by more than 200 in the past week but increased by 46 after this weekend's reporting. The total now stands at 1,794 statewide. As it stands, Louisiana's hospital systems are no longer in danger of being overwhelmed.  

The number of new cases reported daily by the LDH remained steady, with 595 new cases Monday. There have been 24,523 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Louisiana, with the vast majority unofficially ending in recovery. 

Several parishes saw an uptick in coronavirus cases after what has proven to be a pattern of low reporting on the weekends. These parishes include Orleans, Jefferson, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Tammany, St. John and Terrebonne. 

The LDH is now also publishing cases by "tract," and you can see how many COVID-19 cases have been reported per neighborhood.

Cases by parish (SE Louisiana):

  • Orleans: 6,148 cases, 339 deaths
  • Jefferson: 5,761 cases, 286 deaths
  • East Baton Rouge: 1,534 cases, 74 deaths
  • St. Tammany: 1,057 cases, 73 death
  • St. John: 669 cases, 53 deaths
  • St. Charles: 508 cases, 28 deaths
  • Lafourche: 573 cases, 27 deaths
  • Terrebonne: 342 cases, 21 deaths
  • Tangipahoa: 418 cases, 15 deaths
  • St. James: 222 cases, 15 death
  • Plaquemines: 164 cases, 13 deaths
  • St. Bernard 423 cases, 12 deaths
  • Washington: 195 cases, 11 death

'Reopen our city. Let it prosper': New Orleans business owners take out Sunday newspaper ad

Several New Orleans business owners took out a full-page ad in the newspaper, asking elected officials to reopen the city's economy by May 1. These business owners said they want decisions to be made both with health and the economy in mind. 

"Reopen our city. Let it prosper," the ad reads. 

"This is not meant to be a criticism. The situation is dire. We know decisions are difficult," said Franco Valobra, owner of Valobra Jewelry on Royal Street. "We need to do something, always keeping in mind the lives are very important, but the destruction of the businesses in the city, the destruction of the income for families, employment, jobs — it's catastrophic."

Last week, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said she doesn't want any large events or festivals to return until 2021, concerned the events could undo all the effort to stop the spread.

Read more

Peyton Manning donates 1,000 meals to New Orleans area healthcare workers

 Healthcare workers got a surprise from a local football legend. Former NFL quarterback and New Orleans native Peyton Manning donated 1,000 meals to Ochsner healthcare workers on Saturday.

Volunteers and employees at Drago’s worked to pack and load up meals donated by Manning.

"We already did about 600 meals to a couple of different locations ...and a couple of different hospitals,” Drago's Tommy Cvitanovich said. “He went to Tulane and East Jefferson. Now, he is taking care of Ochsner."

The meals went to healthcare workers at several different Ochsner facilities, who continue to treat patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read more 

Louisiana's new health secretary begins work amid outbreak

Louisiana’s new health secretary has started the job. Courtney Phillips is taking the helm of an agency central to state response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Phillips was named to the position by Gov. John Bel Edwards in February, before Louisiana had its first confirmed infection of the virus. 

Since then, the state has become a hot spot for the epidemic. The health department announced Friday that Phillips had officially moved into the secretary’s role. 

Phillips previously led the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. She is a Louisiana native who worked in various roles at the state health department for 12 years.

Hopes in Louisiana for more nonemergency care by May 1

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards says the state is working to make more non-emergency medical procedures available to residents before May 1.

Edwards said Friday health officials are working to begin allowing elective surgeries and other procedures that were delayed when facilities ramped up to fight the new coronavirus. 

As for opening up more of the state's economy, Edwards says the state still has work to do to meet federal guidelines to begin a phased reopening of businesses. 

Edwards spoke at LSU where a basketball arena has been converted into a site for making badly needed medical masks and surgical gowns.

How will Louisiana prepare for COVID-19 hurricane season?

Hurricane season gets closer every day, and while South East Louisiana may not be under a stay-at-home mandate June 1, Gov. John Bel Edwards said the coronavirus will change the way the state will respond to severe weather.

"There are all sorts of things we are going to have to consider…," Gov. Edwards said.

During a press conference, reporters asked the governor how the coronavirus pandemic will change the state’s response to hurricanes or other severe weather.

"We are not going to posture the same way,” Gov. Edwards said.”For example, to shelter the same number of people, we are going to have to have multiple shelters, so we can practice social distancing."

Gov. Edwards also said his office will need to work on getting more personal protective gear and more doctors and nurses to help.

“We are going to need to provide PPE,” the governor said. “We are going to have additional medical personnel in any shelter we open.”

Read more

Against federal protection laws, Algiers tenants receive eviction notice

Johnquil Kelley, a French Quarter restaurant employee, has been out of a job since mid-March. Unable to pay her April rent for her Algiers apartment, she said she notified her landlord Joshua Bruno.

He responded with a bright pink notice that stated: “THREE DAY NOTICE TO PAY OR VACATE.”

Under that headline, the notice states, the amount owed, late fees and the following: “Demand for possession is hereby made. You are hereby given notice to PAY or vacate the dwelling on or before midnight of the 2nd day of this notice.”

Kelley said she tried to explain her predicament to Bruno, owner of the complex, Cypress Park Apartments.

“I'm still waiting on a stimulus check, and I'm still waiting on my unemployment— anything, something — so I can pay him his rent,” Kelley said. “But he still put the notice on the door.”

Read more 

Doctors using older Ebola medication on COVID-19 patients say results are promising

A drug that didn’t work so well for the Ebola virus outbreak, may be showing promise in COVID-19 patients. Doctors said it’s very early information that was leaked, and there’s still more testing that needs to be done

But that promising drug is being tested on patients in the New Orleans area.

It is causing headlines in the medical and business worlds: News that an older drug used during the Ebola outbreak may be helping patients sick with this SARS-2 coronavirus. 

'STAT Reports' writes that it got the news from a recorded video chat that a doctor in Chicago had with her colleagues, talking about a clinical trial on the IV antiviral medication remdesivir.

The drug works by inhibiting the virus from making copies of itself. Her comments were about patients on remdesivir having rapid recoveries with fever and respiratory problems, and she said most patients were getting out of the hospital in less than a week. That caused stock prices of its makers, Gilead Sciences, to jump eight percent.

Read more 

Tools 

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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