NEW ORLEANS — Louisiana reported only one coronavirus death in New Orleans Friday, a welcome dip in the number of coronavirus deaths for a city that has already lost more than 200 residents in the pandemic.
New data from the Louisiana Department of Health Friday shows that 225 people from Orleans Parish have died from the virus, an increase of only one patient since Thursday. That is the smallest increase in the number of deaths in New Orleans since the COVID-19 outbreak began in the city.
New Orleans has the second-highest death rate in the country from the virus, second only to New York.
While Friday's number could be just an outlier, it is part of an equation that health officials have been waiting for: As the rate of new cases, hospitalizations and tests remain flat, there is hope that Louisiana is reaching a plateau in the much talked about "curve" of the virus.
"It is fair to say that we're in a better place today than we were at this time last week. And that gives us something to be thankful for going into Easter weekend," Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said Friday.
Edwards cautioned that Louisiana would only continue on this positive trajectory if residents continue to stay home, practice social distancing and maintain good hygiene.
In a separate news conference, President Donald Trump said New Orleans and the state of Louisiana is "doing much better than we thought."
"We built them a big hospital of 1,000 beds, and now we're in the midst of doing another thousand. And, I don't think they're going to be using very many of them. That's a good thing," Trump said.
At some points during the outbreak, New Orleans had accounted for nearly a third of the deaths reported daily by LDH. Twice in the past two weeks, the city has recorded record highs of 23 deaths in a day, only dipping below single-digits twice during that time.
Friday, however, the city's single death accounted for less than 2% of the state's 53 new reported fatalities.
While the New Orleans/Jefferson Parish metro area remains the epicenter of the outbreak in Louisiana, the number of new cases in those parishes trended downward this week.
In total, New Orleans has 5,416 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and Jefferson Parish has 4,678, combining for more than half of the state's 19,253 cases.
The daily percentage of new cases in the two parishes stayed between 50-60% of the state's total last week but only accounted for about 38% Friday.
While the 53 lives lost to the virus is a staggering number, it was a 7% increase in total deaths --in line with the daily number of losses this week.
The key is that the number has not continued to climb daily, with each day bringing more deaths than the last. There are now 755 dead in the state.
Hospitalizations decreased for the first time in the pandemic on Wednesday but increased slightly on Thursday and have increased again on Friday, by 40. There are now 2,054 patients in hospitals for COVID-19 treatment.
The number of ventilators available went in the wrong direction Friday as well, after improving the past three days. However, only six more people need ventilators from yesterday, and ventilator use has been by far the slowest growing stat in Louisiana's daily updates.
Edwards significantly reduced the number of ventilators he was asking for this week based on these numbers. There are now 479 people in need of ventilators across the state.