BATON ROUGE – Health officials have reported 20 deaths of Louisiana residents due to COVID-19 and 837 confirmed cases of the virus.
Saturday the Louisiana Department of Health said the 4 additional deaths are 3 Orleans Parish residents who are 90, 53 and 83-years-old. The fourth death was a 77-year-old Jefferson Parish resident.
An additional person died in a Louisiana hospital this week, but the patient was a Mississippi resident and was therefore not accounted for on the state’s website, authorities said.
As expected, there are coronavirus patients from the three largest capital-area parishes. More patients are also being diagnosed with COVID-19 as testing increases across the state.
LSU confirmed Friday that a grad student living off-campus had tested positive for the virus.
The individual is a graduate student who takes all courses online, who does not live on campus, and who has not been on campus since March 7.
— LSU (@LSU) March 20, 2020
University President Tom Galligan released a statement in response to the news here: https://lsu.edu/coronavirus/messages/email/03-20-confirmed-case.php
Our Lady of the Lake, Baton Rouge General and Ochsner are treating patients.
New data was released Saturday morning by the state health department around 9:30 a.m.
The below map is provided by the state and is updated twice a day: At 9:30 and 5:30; Cases released by hospitals or local governments during the day are not reported in the map until the next reporting deadline.
The tabs at the bottom of the map can be used to navigate limited information about the patients, including age groups.
To combat the spread, the state ordered bars, gyms, movie theaters and casinos to close. Restaurants seating areas are closed, too, and those businesses are limited to food take-out, delivery and drive-thru only.
Gatherings of people are now limited to fewer than 50 people, the governor ordered earlier this week.
Today, I am taking additional measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by further limiting gatherings to fewer than 50 people, closing casinos, bars & movie theaters and limiting restaurants to delivery and drive-through orders only. #lagov #lalege
— John Bel Edwards (@LouisianaGov) March 16, 2020
Officials are hoping to reach a peak where the virus spread will not top the available healthcare resources in Louisiana.
“Now more than ever, we must remain vigilant against the spread of this illness by taking care of ourselves and each other, avoiding going into public areas if you are sick, practicing social distancing and washing your hands frequently with soap and water,” Governor Edwards said after the first death.
As of Saturday, March 14, the CDC began allowing state agencies to confirm coronavirus cases within their own labs, without sending test samples to the CDC. The CDC says the decision was made because the state tests have proven to be reliable.
The Louisiana Department of Health reported the state’s first positive case of the virus at an Orleans Parish hospital March 9. The Department of Health said the initial case was not travel-related and was “community acquired.”
Edwards says that LDH has since increased the number of people being tested for coronavirus. The state also recently expanded its testing protocols to include a larger group of people, per CDC guidelines.
“But that’s why it’s important that people take the precautions that we’re giving them because we can limit this. But it’s going to require everyone to do their part,” Edwards said.
The CDC is also urging all large events and mass gatherings, for 8 weeks, to cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the United States to help prevent the spread.
The state has launched a hotline to answer the public’s questions about the virus. Anyone looking to use the service can dial 2-1-1 to be connected to the network. Written answers can be answered online at www.la211help.org.