NEW ORLEANS — Louisiana is now seeing a surge in coronavirus positive cases, particularly in the New Orleans area.

Numbers released Monday showed 1,172 cases in the state. That is a 40 percent hike over the numbers released on Sunday. 

Public health officials warn this could be a crucial week and that we could be running out of time to slow the spread of the virus.

U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams said not enough people are taking the coronavirus outbreak seriously.

“The numbers are going to get worse this week,” Dr. Adams said. “Things are going to get worse before they get better and we really need everyone to understand this is serious and to lean into what they can do to flatten the curve.”

The message couldn’t be clearer, stay at home and if you absolutely have to go out, stay 6 feet away from other people.

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“We can affect the trajectory, really with this week and what we’re trying to do is avoid a flood of our hospitals,” Assistant State Health Officer Dr. Joe Kanter said.

Ochsner Health CEO Warner Thomas said his hospitals are doing okay for now, but he is concerned about the next 7 to 10 days.

“We are seeing escalating cases and all hospitals in the region are trying to open up more bed capacity,” Thomas said. “I think we’re concerned about capacity, specifically in our ICU areas.”

Ochsner is in the process of adding 100 additional intensive care beds to handle increasing demand.

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“I think the challenge we’re seeing is it’s a relatively long ICU stay, 10-14 days,” Thomas said. “Patients (are) very severely ill.”

At Ochsner Medical Center in Jefferson, only about 15 percent of those who test positive for coronavirus are ending up in the hospital. Of that number, only about one-third of the patients have a condition that’s serious enough to require treatment in the ICU.

“We have to shelter in place,” Thomas said. “We have to make sure we’re adhering to what the state is saying because this is serious. I think we’ll get through this. We’re going to work through it and get to the other side, but we have to make sure we’re doing the right things to take care of our self and our families.”

Ochsner is the first hospital in the state to start testing its own coronavirus patients with same day results.

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