There are now 196 diagnosed cases of COVID-19 in the state of Louisiana, with four people dead from the disease -- all of whom were residents of New Orleans.
The most recent victim was an 80-year-old who lived in the Lambeth House retirement home in Uptown New Orleans, where there are at least 12 confirmed coronavirus cases impacting the at-risk elderly community there.
In total, 136 of the cases are in Orleans Parish. Jefferson Parish saw a significant jump in cases, from 11 Monday to 35 Tuesday. New cases were also reported in Washington Parish and Terrebonne Parish.
The city is second only to Seattle in per capita cases of the virus, forcing Governor John Bel Edwards to close bars, movie theaters and restaurant dining rooms for at least a month, starting Wednesday.
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell has prohibited all private and public gatherings and closed all bars, nightclubs, gyms, health clubs, shopping malls and dine-in restaurants. These social distancing rules went into effect at midnight last night.
On Monday, an 84-year-old from the Lambeth House senior facility was pronounced dead from COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.
Two other patients diagnosed with the coronavirus have died. Both were being treated at Touro Hospital and both were from New Orleans. One was 58-years-old and another was 53. Both were said by the state to have had underlying conditions.
The number of cases in Louisiana continues to grow significantly since Friday, and that number is expected to continue growing as more people are tested.
Jazz Fest postponed until Fall
The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival will be postponed and rescheduled later this fall, producers said late Tuesday.
The event was originally scheduled for the weekends of April 23 through April 26 and April 30 through May 3 at the New Orleans Fair Grounds.
The outdoor music, food and heritage event traditionally draws hundreds of thousands of people to town over two weekends. Last year, attendance was pegged at 475,000.
Nearly 200 cases in Louisiana confirmed
Mayor LaToya Cantrell said during a press conference Tuesday that her administration was fighting for workers living paycheck to paycheck and for small businesses during the coronavirus outbreak.
She said the city planned to waive all fines, fees and penalties associated with late payments for business taxes and other payments due to the city, and her administration was looking at other ways to prop up businesses without deep pockets.
Cantrell cautioned that the economic pain from the shutdown could cause layoffs and furloughs in the city government down the line.
"Anything is on the table at this time," she said.
Jefferson Parish offers lunches for students out of school
The Jefferson Parish Public School system is working to help feed students during the prolonged school closure because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The efforts have resulted in a parish-wide lunch and breakfast program starting Wednesday, March 18.
“Nothing we offer will fully replace the supports our kids receive when our doors are open,” said JP Schools Superintendent Dr. Cade Brumley. “We are stepping up to make this uncertain time a little easier for families.”
Meals will be provided Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., for any child 18 and under, regardless of whether they are a student at a Jefferson Parish school. Meals include lunch for the day and breakfast for the following morning.
All dentist offices closed expect for emergency surgeries
The Louisiana Department of Health announced Tuesday they will close all dentist's offices until mid-April in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
All routine, non-essential visits are cancelled until that time. Offices will only be opened if emergency surgery is needed.
St. Tammany announces pre-package lunches for students
Starting Wednesday, St. Tammany Parish schools are beginning to offer grab-and-go hot lunches and pre-packaged breakfast and lunches for students out of school.
Students or their family members will be able pick up meals from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Monday through Friday, at all eight area high schools in St. Tammany Parish.
Additionally, all public meetings are cancelled and libraries, the permit office and other public departments will remain closed until further notice, Cooper said. Working with permitting and most offices can still be done online or by phone.
Second death reported at Lambeth House community
An 80-year-old patient from the retirement home in Uptown New Orleans has died from COVID-19, the day after it was announced an 84-year-old resident there had also passed away.
The reported cases out of Lambeth House continue to rise, first with the 84-year-old victim hospitalized on March 6, then jumping to eight cases last week and now, per governor Edwards on Monday, 12 confirmed cases.
According to a Lambeth House spokesperson, on-site testing for the virus has begun. Those tests are in the hands of the Louisiana Department of Health.
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.
West Jeff Medical Center starts drive-thru testing
West Jefferson Medical Center has begun offering drive-thru screening for the coronavirus. The drive-thru service is available and people will remain in their cars for the tests to allow for social distancing.
However, before they do the test, they ask that people take the following steps - calling first. If they determine from the call that you need further testing, they will send you to the drive-thru testing, the hours which will be Monday - Sunday from noon to 8 p.m.
Coronavirus numbers continue to climb in Louisiana
Tuesday morning's numbers from the Louisiana Department of Health show that more than half of the states COVID-19 cases, 171 for now, are in New Orleans.
Jefferson Parish, which had no cases until mid-week last week, jumped from 11 to 31 in the span of a day.
New cases also arose in Washington and Terrebonne parishes.
Lafourche sheriff's office starts telephone check-in program for elderly residents
From the LPSO:
Lafourche Parish Sheriff Craig Webre is urging citizens to take advantage of a free service to check on the welfare of elderly relatives, especially those who may be self-isolating due to COVID-19.
The “Are You OK?” program is a free telephone reassurance service provided by the Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office. Through this program, the Sheriff’s Office places a daily phone call to a person at a specified time. If no response is received, a deputy is dispatched to the residence to check on that person. This service is designed to enhance the quality of life for elderly residents who live alone or those who are at risk of sudden illness, falls, accidents, or social isolation.
Citing guidelines from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Governor John Bel Edwards has recommended that all elderly citizens and those with chronic health conditions limit interactions with others.
Louisiana Department of Children & Family Services closes offices
From the Louisiana DCFS office:
Due to community spread of the novel coronavirus in New Orleans, and in response to the need for social distancing across the state, the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) is instituting 100% remote work in its Orleans Region offices, and transitioning to reduced workforce on-site in other offices statewide, starting today (Tuesday, March 17, 2020).
How to connect with DCFS:
- To report child abuse, call Louisiana's child abuse hotline at 1-855-4LA-KIDS (1-855-452-5437), or for mandatory reporters, visit www.dcfs.la.gov/mandatedreporters.
- To access SNAP, FITAP, KCSP or Child Support, apply only via the CAFÉ Self-Service Portal (www.dcfs.la.gov/cafe) or get information about the services online at www.dcfs.la.gov/page/family-support or by calling the LAHelpU Customer Service Center at 1-888-LA-HELP-U (1-888-524-3578).
- Those specifically looking for a SNAP application can text GETSNAP (no spaces) to 898211, email LAHelpU.DCFS@la.gov or call 1-888-LA-HELP-U (1-888-524-3578).
Streetcars, buses and ferries operating on reduced schedule
New Orleans' public transportation network of ferries, buses and streetcars are now limited, city officials said.
The Regional Transit Authority began service reductions starting Tuesday, March 17, officials said in a statement.
The changes are being made to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the disease contracted from the coronavirus.
Officials are asking residents to avoid using public transportation unless they are traveling for essential work such as healthcare and nutrition services.
New Orleans is second only to Seattle in COVID-19 cases per capita
The statistics are as fluid and fast-changing as they are alarming, but as of Monday afternoon, Louisiana and New Orleans rank as national hotspots for the Covid-19 pandemic.
Numbers calculated by WWL-TV from state and municipal health departments, combined with latest census numbers, place Louisiana and New Orleans squarely in the top five locations for the growing crisis. With the federal government recommending against any gatherings of more than 10 people, the state and city numbers seem to support that drastic suggestion.
With the state’s count of positive cases updated to 136 as of Monday evening, Louisiana ranks third among states on a per capita basis, trailing only Washington and New York. New Orleans, which is rapidly becoming a front-line battleground for the outbreak, ranks second among big cities, trailing only Seattle.
Public Catholic mass cancelled in New Orleans
The catholic church has taken another step this week to help limit the spread of COVID-19, cancelling all public masses.
Confessions and other gatherings have also been cancelled until further notice.
"Let us pray for those who have died because of the virus, and for the healing of those who have been affected. Be assured of my prayers daily and I will pray for you in my private daily Mass," Archbishop Gregory Aymond said in part.
The cancellation includes all St. Joseph and St. Patrick's Day gatherings.
New Orleans restrictions now in effect
Starting at midnight, New Orleans' business closure and ban on gatherings is now in effect. It will last at least the coming weeks in an attempt to curb the spread of COVID-19 and limit the impact on Louisiana's healthcare system.
All bars, nightclubs, casinos, shopping malls, dine-in restaurants, entertainment venues and gyms and fitness studios are now closed until further notice. All public and priviate gatherings are prohibited.
“This does not apply to health care facilities, pharmacies, grocery stores, corner stores, banks, gas stations and to her essential service providers,” Cantrell said.
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.