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5 dead from coronavirus at New Orleans retirement home

There are at least 13 positive cases of COVID-19 -- the respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus -- among Lambeth House patients.

NEW ORLEANS — Five residents from the Lambeth House retirement community in Uptown New Orleans have died from COVID-19, just days after the first case was reported there.

The most recent victim from the Lambeth House was a 91-year-old, Louisiana Department of Health officials announced Thursday afternoon. No further information, including their name or gender, was immediately available. 

LDH officials announced the fourth victim, a 92-year-old, Wednesday afternoon, hours after it was learned a 98-year-old Lambeth House resident had also passed away while battling the virus. 

11 people in the state are now dead from the novel coronavirus, eight of whom were New Orleans residents. Six of them lived in Lambeth House. On Thursday, the state's youngest victim, a 44-year-old with underlying conditions, died in New Orleans.  

"Each of these numbers, they're not just cases, they represent our brothers and sisters," Governor John Bel Edwards said. "They are our fellow Louisianans, our fathers, brothers, mothers, sisters, family members, coworkers and neighbors."

The 92-year-old patient was Dr. Charles Rodney Smith, a psychiatrist who practiced in New Orleans area for more than 50 years, his daughter Helen Smith Guidry said. 

Smith was the founder and president of the Burdon-Smith Clinic and served on the facilities of both Tulane and LSU medical schools. 

"Our family appreciates the outpouring of sympathy and support from friends and from the residents and staff of Lambeth House," Smith Guidry said. "We urge everyone to take this current global situation seriously and to take all measures possible to protect their families, friends and co-workers, especially the elderly and those most vulnerable.”

Smith had lived at Lambeth House for four years. His wife of 57 years, Carol Heyer Smith, passed away a few months ago.   

SEE: Lambeth House resident killed by COVID-19 remembered as a gentleman, scholar

Edwards said everyone at Lambeth House showing symptoms, both workers or residents, have been tested for the virus. As of Thursday, it remained the only "cluster" of COVID-19 in Louisiana, meaning a community that experiences rapid spread of the disease throughout its ranks. 

The virus first presented itself within the facility's independent living section, separate from the assisted living and hospice care portion, according to Edwards. 

A resident living in the independent section, however, was moved to the hospice unit without staff realizing they were positive for COVID-19. As of Wednesday, no one who had already been living in the hospice unit has tested positive for the virus, Edwards said. 

The LDH updates come the day after an 80-year-old Lambeth House resident, 80-year-old James Carriere, was pronounced dead from the new virus.

Carriere, a former magistrate judge, was a volunteer professor and taught federal criminal law and some trial advocacy seminars for the past 10 years at Loyola University. He passed away Tuesday. 

“The staff, residents and Board of Lambeth House are devastated by these latest developments and grieve for the families of those who have died as a result of this dangerous virus,"  said Lambeth House board chair Christina Fay in part. "The intensity of sadness that accompanies what our community is currently enduring is almost indescribable.”

On Monday, it was announced an 84-year-old resident from the home had passed away, the first victim from Lambeth House and the first Louisianan victim over the age of 80. 

The 84-year-old and 98-year-old victims have not been identified. 

The elderly are considered the most at risk population when it comes to the coronavirus. People over the age of 65 have a higher fatality rate from COVID-19 than any other group.

As of Friday morning , there were 392 confirmed cases of the virus in Louisiana, with more than half, 249, in Orleans Parish. 

MORE: Louisiana Coronavirus Updates

MORE: Louisiana Coronavirus Outbreak Interactive Map

What you need to know about COVID-19: 

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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RELATED: Louisiana Coronavirus Outbreak Interactive Map

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