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Louisiana Coronavirus Updates: State surpasses 25,000 cases

Gov. Edwards says the state is still assessing its May 1 economic restart date and what phasing back in will look like for Louisiana.

NEW ORLEANS — This live blog has ended. See updates for Thursday, April 23 here

Latest Numbers:

  • 1,473 deaths (+68)
  • 25,258 total cases (+404)
  • 1,747 patients in hospitals (-51)
  • 287 patients on ventilators (-10)
  • 64 of 64 parishes reporting cases
  • Total tests conducted under review by state health department

Key Updates: 

  • Deaths remain high from COVID-19 in Louisiana as columns either plateau or slowly fall, specifically in Southeast Louisiana. 
  • Governor John Bel Edwards says the state is still assessing its May 1 economic restart date and what phasing back in will look like for Louisiana. 
  • Walk-up coronavirus testing is now available in New Orleans neighborhoods that otherwise have limited access to healthcare. It comes as the FDA approves its first at-home testing kit for the virus.
  • The U.S. Senate has passed another stimulus bill worth $500 to restart the small business loan program, which ran out of funding last week. 

Read yesterday's live blog

St. John to close some testing Thursday over severe weather threat

Hahnville, LA - Due to the threat of severe weather, the COVID-19 Hahnville High School testing site will temporarily close on Thursday, April 23, 2020. The site will reopen on Friday, April 23, 2020, at 8 a.m. and will remain open until noon or until the test capacity of 250 is met.

Deaths remain high as other rates stay flat 

New cases in Orleans and Jefferson parishes were up slightly in the Louisiana Department of Health's Wednesday coronavirus update. 

In total, the two parishes made up 40% of the latest 404 new COVID-19 cases in the state, as total cases surpassed 25,000. 

Total hospitalizations were back down and continuing to hover between 1,700 and 1,800, which they have for the past several days. The number of ventilators in use continues to fall steadily. 

The LDH announced Wednesday they were conducting a "comprehensive review" of commercial coronavirus testing in the state. While they say this does not change the number of total confirmed cases, it may change the total tests counted, which stood at 141,561 Monday. Officials have stated several times there have been issues with uniformly reporting commercial lab tests. 

The LDH also added the total of "probable" COVID-19 deaths (59). These are deaths with tests results are either incomplete or inconclusive but that doctors still believe are coronavirus-related. 

Cases by parish (SE Louisiana):

  • Orleans: 6,209 cases, 367 deaths
  • Jefferson: 5,860 cases, 229 deaths
  • East Baton Rouge: 1,603 cases, 95 deaths
  • St. Tammany: 1,079 cases, 81 death
  • St. John: 704 cases, 57 deaths
  • St. Charles: 522 cases, 31 deaths
  • Lafourche: 583 cases, 32 deaths
  • Terrebonne: 350 cases, 24 deaths
  • Tangipahoa: 494 cases, 18 deaths
  • St. James: 231 cases, 18 death
  • Plaquemines: 164 cases, 16 deaths
  • St. Bernard 430 cases, 13 deaths
  • Washington: 214 cases, 13 death

Walk up testing sites to move around New Orleans

If you’re concerned that you may be infected with COVID-19, the City of New Orleans and local health providers are now providing mobile, walk up testing. 

The first testing site is set up near Xavier University and it will move in the coming weeks. The site locations are specifically chosen for people who may have trouble getting health care. 

The city partnered with LCMC Health, Xavier University, and LSU Health Sciences to bring COVID testing to communities that for too long, didn’t have much access to health care.

The mobile testing site near Xavier University will be held daily until Friday, from 8 am to 4 pm or until they reach their maximum of 250 tests each day. The city plans to have other mobile sites in the coming weeks.

Read more 

Red Beans Krewe gave 51,000 meals to frontline workers in last month

A walking parade group, the Red Beans Krewe, is keeping locally-owned restaurants in business by feeding hospital workers. They're now the model for groups with the same mission in other states.

The Krewe of Red Beans said it's all about 'food love.'

"Every workplace is the same, when somebody brings delicious food, everybody is happier," said Red Beans founder, Devin De Wulf.

'Feed the Frontline NOLA' gives 2,300 meals out every day to healthcare workers at 15 hospitals in the New Orleans area.

Musicians and artists out of work are hired to deliver the food. It all comes from small neighborhood restaurants.

Read more 

Houma restaurant owners now coronavirus free

The owners of Mimi’s Creole Cuisine on Main Street in Houma are now free of COVID-19 after being diagnosed with the virus last month. 

“After our first interview -- it turned for worse,” said Michelle “Mimi” Foreman. “It’s been a long road.”  

We first introduced Michelle and husband Charles last month when she tested positive for COVID-19 after being admitted into the hospital for pneumonia. She was released after four days and was sure she was getting better. It didn’t work.

Charles Foreman is a world-renowned chef at Mimi’s. 

Now after weeks of recovery at home, mixed with breathing treatments, Theraflu and Vitamin C both Michelle and Charles are both virus free and thankful for the support of the community.

Read more 

Senate reaches deal on $500 billion deal for small businesses

Senate leaders announced they reached an agreement on a nearly $500 billion bill to replenish the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

The program, designed to help ailing businesses stay afloat during this Coronavirus outbreak, ran out of money last week.

As the PPP gets an infusion of cash, restaurant owners are asking Congress to adjust some of the rules, now keeping many of them from participating in the program.

The SBA loan becomes of forgivable grant, if recipients can to get back to pre-crisis staffing levels by June 30.

Drago’s Seafood Restaurant owner Tommy Cvitanovich maintains that’s a tall order when you consider social distancing measures could be in place until this time next year.

Read more 

At-home COVID-19 testing coming to a doorstep near you

Testing for COVID-19 will soon available at your doorstep. Order a kit and test yourself, from the comfort of your couch.

In an effort to increase testing capacity across the country, Tuesday the FDA announced emergency approval of the first at-home testing kits. It’s a nasal swab, called Pixel, sold by LabCorp. Once you get the kit, you collect your own sample and then send it off to a lab.

Even if a proper sample is collected, because of how the virus is made up, shipping becomes the next concern.  

 “If the specimen isn’t handled properly and kept at the proper temperature throughout its journey from the patient to the lab, there is a risk of false negatives,” said Dr. Lucio Miele, Chair of the Department of Genetics at LSU Health Sciences Center.

The at-home tests will first only be available to health care workers and first responders. They’ll be available to everyone else in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, testing sites, like the one in St. James Parish will continue.

Read more

Louisiana pastor who defied coronavirus rules arrested, accused of aggravated assault 

The Louisiana pastor who notoriously defied Louisiana's stay at home order during the height of the coronavirus crisis now has been arrested.

According to court documents, Tony Spell was wanted for misdemeanor charges of aggravated assault and improper backing after he allegedly backed a church bus into a protester near Life Tabernacle Church on Sunday.

Sunday's incident was not Spell's first run-in with law enforcement in recent days. Earlier this month, Spell was issued a summons for holding church services at Life Tabernacle Church, violating Governor John Bel Edwards' statewide stay at home order.

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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