NEW ORLEANS — New numbers released by the Louisiana Department of Health Friday show a drastic decrease in the number of hospitalized patients, dropping the number below 1,100 for the first time in over a month.
Hospitalized patients with COVID-19 dropped from 1,193 to 1,091 from Thursday, one of the largest single-day drops since the height of hospitalizations on April 13. In fact, the new number is the lowest since March 28, when 927 people were hospitalized in total because of the coronavirus.
Across Louisiana, confirmed cases increased by about 1% to 33,837. About 5,600 tests were added to the official count since Thursday, when a backlog of tests from private labs starting to report to the state caused a spike of confirmed cases.
In the past several weeks, confirmed case increases of a few hundred per day have been the norm. Thursday, more than 800 new cases were reported, but most were from as far back as March.
Eight fewer people were on ventilators Friday, down to 132 patients.
Friday, Louisiana began easing restrictions on businesses statewide because of promising numbers and a high number of tests per capita, despite not appearing to completely clear the bar set down by the White House for when states should consider reopening: declining new cases daily and increased testing.
But, even as the state begins easing restrictions, the effects will be limited.
Many businesses will be limited to 25% capacity and strict social distancing guidelines will be in place.
New Orleans, where the virus was first found in Louisiana, will begin easing its own restrictions Saturday.
Unemployment numbers reported Thursday show more than 40,000 people filed new claims in Louisiana last week as the coronavirus fight continues to pound the state's economy.
For the comparable week last year, the figure was around 2,000. As of last week, more than 325,000 qualified for unemployment benefits in the state, compared to 13,400 for the comparable week last year.