Louisiana sees 13% increase in COVID-19 cases; Governor urges residents to stay at home to stop virus’ spread

Louisiana

BATON ROUGE, La. (KLFY)- APRIL 3, 2020, UPDATE: Louisiana saw a 13 percent increase in overnight cases Friday. The state’s stay-at-home order continues through April 30 in an urgent effort to diminish the spread of COVID-19. 

The following is release sent from Gov. John Bel Edwards’ office on Friday:

BATON ROUGE — Louisiana’s modeling data show the state on course to require 2,500 new hospitalizations a day in the New Orleans area by mid-May, if the public does not adhere to COVID-19 mitigation measures like Gov. Edwards’ Stay at Home order.

Governor Edwards and the Louisiana Department of Health on Friday shared a product of the state’s COVID-19 modeling that takes into account the Governor’s aggressive mitigation measures.

“There are increasing efforts across the country to understand the impact of social distancing, school closures, stay at home orders and other mitigation measures as we strive to flatten the curve and slow the spread of this virus,” said Governor John Bel Edwards. “What we are seeing is that many Louisianans are taking this seriously. Unfortunately, there are still others who are not, and perhaps it is because we have not fully impressed upon all of our citizens the serious consequences of not staying at home.”

Projections are based on modeling that accounts for the rate of hospitalization and death, as well as the capacity of health care facilities and medical surge efforts in each region. Each scenario is based on the number of new people a COVID-19 positive patient infects. In the most favorable scenario, this number is lower, with fewer people being infected and fewer health care resources needed.

Louisiana releases data about hospitalized cases and hospital and ventilator use each day on its COVD-19 dashboard at ldh.la.gov/coronavirus

The product of the Department’s COVID-19 model shows differing scenarios based on how well the public participates in different mitigation efforts. This graph shows projected new hospitalizations per day under four different scenarios in Region 1 (the Greater New Orleans Area). As the Department builds out additional regional projections, it will share them with the public. 

“The consequences of not staying at home are real. You have heard me talk about flattening the curve before, and so might wonder why there are four curves here,” continued Governor Edwards. “These are four different scenarios based on actions we all take now.” 

The high red curve is Louisiana’s baseline, or what would happen without any measures taken. This is the state’s worst-case scenario – there is a rapid rise in new hospitalizations, adding intense strain to the state’s overwhelmed health care system. In this scenario, many people will die.

“We all have the power to determine the path we end up on.  We are not strangers to hurricane maps and projections in Louisiana. In some ways this graph is no different. Like projected paths of a hurricane these curves show different potential paths of coronavirus in Louisiana,” said Governor Edwards.  “Importantly, unlike a hurricane, we have the ability to redirect the path of this virus.”

These blue and purple curves show the impact of social distancing and staying at home. These are much flatter curves, meaning far fewer people enter the hospital on any one day.

“On the purple curve or scenario where everyone complies with the stay at home order, the Greater New Orleans region’s  health care system would have the time and the ability to take care of us as we get sick. It means far fewer of our neighbors, family members and friends will die,” said Dr. Alex Billioux, the Assistant Secretary of the Office of Public Health. “Unfortunately this is likely not the case on the blue curve or scenario where everyone is effectively social distancing in the region. Social distancing is a valuable shield against coronavirus, but it is not as strong as staying at home.”  

The black curve shows the midpoint scenario and what the state is currently using to plan.

The above projections are dynamic and by definition will change with new underlying data. Changes in projections are largely driven by changing conditions on the ground. In summary, the Department generates these projections for the purposes of knowing what curve Louisiana is on and in what direction the state is trending. This will allow officials to better plan and allocate resources, and also so the public can clearly see that full compliance with the Stay at Home order and social distancing will produce the best possible outcome and save thousands of lives.

APRIL 2, 2020, UPDATE:

At 4 p.m. today, Louisianans will receive an emergency alert text from the state reminding them of the current stay-at-home order, which will be extended to April 30, 2020.  

Residents can opt in for state updates by texting LACOVID to 67283.

The state Department of Education is expected to release new information on what’s next for school systems after April 30 on Friday, Gov. John Bel Edwards said during his briefing Thursday.

Louisiana saw a 42 percent spike in confirmed COVID-19 cases overnight. The increase is likely due to a logjam of roughly 160,000 tests handled private labs, Edwards said.  

The state continues to clamor for new ventilators and has renewed its federal requests for new shipments. 

Cases have been confirmed in all but three of the 64 parishes, but Edwards reassured residents the virus has spread throughout the state.  

“I promise you, there is COVID-10 in every one of those parishes and in every community in Louisiana,” he said. 

As of April 2, more than 1,600 people in the Louisiana were hospitalized due to COVID-19 and 310 confirmed deaths. 

Edwards continued to urge social distancing, avoid group events  and simply stay at home.  

On a positive note, DOTD Secretary of State Dr. Shawn Wilson has recovered from the virus and it back at work, Edwards said.

APRIL 1, 2020 UPDATE: Louisiana saw a 23 percent increase in COVID- 19 cases overnight, but there are some signs a spike in “hot spots” in the New Orleans area is beginning flatten.  

 During his April 1 briefing, Gov. John Bel Edwards said the state’s trajectory in terms of the virus’ spread remains similar to Italy and Spain, which is why he reiterating the need for to Louisianans to practice social distancing and stay home. 

“We simply can’t let our foot off the gas,” the governor said.  

Models now show Region 3, which includes the state’s river parishes and St. Mary Parish, is seeing a jump in new cases, Edwards said. 

As of April 1, nearly 500 coronavirus patients are relying on ventilators, and the state remains in a dire shortage. Edwards did say the National Guard has delivered additional 150 this week. 

Louisiana Workforce Commission remains inundated with nearly 8,000 per day. Additional staff and a third-party service has been brought on to assist with unemployment claims, Edwards.   

A new $50 million small business loan program has been launched. Learn more about the program here.

March 31, 2020 UPDATE: The rapidly growing number of COVID-19 patients in need of hospitalization may cause regions of Louisiana to run out of ventilators as soon as April 4. 

The state is working with private companies and the federal government to address the state’s dire lack of medical equipment, Gov. John Bel Edwards said.

During his March 31 briefing, Edwards said 1,000 additional beds will be added to the already 1,000-bed makeshift medical facility inside Earnest Morial Convention Center in New Orleans by Sunday.  

The emergency facility was established to house “non-fragile” COVID-19 patients who are less severely in need of treatment. The state’s healthcare system is facing a capacity crisis as the number of statewide cases continues rise, Edwards said.  

Louisiana saw 1,200 newly confirmed cases overnight to a total of 5,237 including 239 deaths as of March 31.  

“As you can see from the numbers today, we’ve got a long way to go,” Edwards said. The governor said the extended stay-at-home order April 30 proclamation will be signed by Friday. “We’re going to get through this, but it won’t be quick and it won’t be easy,” he said.

Later Tuesday, Edwards said he will sign a proclamation easing some licensing regulations to allow out-of-state healthcare workers to assist Louisiana in treating COVID-19 patients.  

Delta Airlines has offered to fly health care volunteers to the state for free.  

March 30, 2020– Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said he plans to extend the state’s stay-at-home order to reflect the nation’s new April 30 timeline.

He said the proclamation will be signed by the end of this week. 

The number of statewide cases increased 485 overnight with 34 additional deaths in 24 hours, the governor said. Monday’s numbers from the state Department of Health and Hospitals reflect a 14 percent increase from Sunday.

The state has ordered 14,000 ventilators, including 5,000 from the federal strategic stockpile.

An 1,000-bed makeshift hospital operation is launching in New Orleans this week.  

Navy medical personnel is arriving in New Orleans and Edwards has assigned Gen. Lee Hopkins as status commander, a newly created post to lead navel staff and the Army National Guard in their relief efforts.  

Edwards continued to urge residents to adhere to the state’s stay-at-home order. “We need better compliance,” the governor said. “We can show our love by staying away from people.”

March 29, 2020 UPDATE: Gov. John Bel Edwards said in a press conference today that the state may well have to extend his stay-at-home order beyond the initial April 13 deadline. That determination, he said, will be made in the coming weeks and will depend on the state’s ability to level off new cases of coronavirus infections.

While the press conference dealt mostly with New Orleans’ Ernest Morial Convention Center being used as a field hospital, Edwards also spoke about the number of tests leveling off statewide. Fewer test results have come in in the last 24 hours than in some of the preceding days. Edwards said a substantial backlog of test results came in during the last 48 hours, but he said fewer tests do not mean the state is ‘flattening the curve.’

“Nobody is happy with the number of tests that has been administered,” said Edwards.

He said the state is working to partner with businesses like Walmart where more public testing can be done. He also expressed a wish to get test results back to patients faster.

Edwards also said he is continuing to petition the federal government for more ventilators from the national strategic stockpile. While none have been allocated yet, Edwards expressed hope that some would be released soon.

Regardless, Edwards said the state’s hospital capacity has not been reached yet, but hospital beds may run out by April 10, based on current models.

_____

March 27, 2020, UPDATE: The number of coronavirus cases in Louisiana increased 19 percent overnight. 

During his Friday briefing, Gov. John Bel Edwards said the new number of cases is lower than the recent daily trend, but it reflects only half of the recent test results available.

“We are assessing to see what these numbers mean,” Edwards said, adding that the state is still second highest in country in per capita coronavirus-related deaths. 

Louisiana remains the third in the country in the number COVID-19 cases under New York and Jersey.

 As of 12 p.m. on Friday, 119 deaths were confirmed statewide. Three deaths in St. Martin Parish, one in Acadia and one in Lafayette, have been confirmed by officials.

Here are key points from Friday’s briefing:

  • Louisiana public education employees will continue to receive full pay. 
  • Delta Airlines is offering to fly volunteer health care workers into the state to aid relief efforts. 
  • No roads or bridges are being closed in relation to COVID-19 mitigation.  
  • As of Friday, March 27, 2020, 12,000 ventilators have been ordered. The state has received 192 so far.  
  • Edwards continued to urge no unnecessary travel and as the state continues to be on a stay-at-home order.  

Watch the full March 27, 2020, viewed below:

March 26, 2020 UPDATE: The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases jumped nearly 30 percent overnight in Louisiana Thursday with 18 new deaths including a 17-year-old patient in Orleans Parish.

During his daily briefing, Gov. John Bel Edwards said 955 members of the National Guard are assisting with newly opened screening sites throughout the state. They are also on hand to assist with makeshift medical facilities, which are expected to be utilized in the coming weeks.  

Students in the health care field as well as medical worker retirees are urged to volunteer as the state braces for a surge of patients to flood the state’s health care system. 

Edwards said the federal government is answering the state’s request for resources including two 250-bed field hospitals and a health care strike team of 60 crew members.  

The Ernest N. Morial Convention Center is being considered as makeshift medical facility as cases in the New Orleans continue to skyrocket. 

But with 2,305 cases confirmed throughout 53 parishes and 83 deaths reported as of Thursday, Edwards again gave a stark warning to Louisiana residents.  

“I hope the entire state is looking at these numbers and they are as concerned about them as I am,” Edwards said. “This is not some flimsy theory. This is not some scare tactic.”  

He said medical personnel are working around the clock, but it’s going to every resident in the state must do their part to stop the virus’ spread.  

“You literally have it within you the power to save lives by minimizing contact,” the governor said. “And that life could be your own.”  

You can watch the full March 26, 2020, briefing below:

March 25, 2020, UPDATE:

Wednesday’s update from Gov. John Bel Edwards was a sober warning. Overnight, more than 400 cases were added to the statewide total with 19 additional deaths. 

Forty-eight of the state’s 64 parishes have confirmed cases, but believing certain parishes are coronavirus free is denial, the governor said. 

“I can assure you, COVID is present in every single parish across the state,” Edwards said during his daily briefing. 

This week, Louisiana joined four other states requesting federal disaster assistance to relieve its health care system, which is already feeling a tightened grip due to lack of resources to treat coronavirus patients and protect workers.  

Edwards noted that the New Orleans are has received some orders of ventilators this week, but due to the rapid rate of virus cases, the region could be completely lacking in the supplies in a matter of weeks.  

“We are far from OK,” Edwards said. “If our growth continues, we could potentially run out of vents the first week in April in New Orleans area.”  

Wednesday’s briefing carried a bleaker tone than Edwards’ “be a good neighbor” message the previous day. 

He continued to urge residents to stay home and avoid public places unless necessary.  “This is real and every person in this state needs to take this seriously.”  

Hotels, convention centers are all being eyed possible locations for emergency medical facilities.  

Edwards noted that dorms are not being considered.  

March 24, 2020 UPDATE: Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards reiterated the importance of Louisiana residents’ role in curbing the spread on COVID-19 spreading throughout the state. 

The virus’ intense trajectory continues to make Louisiana the third most vulnerable state in the country, with nearly 1400 confirmed cases as of Tuesday.  

Of those cases, 94 patients require ventilation, the Department of Health and Hospitals reported. Forty six deaths have been confirmed.

“Everyone has a role to play here,” Edwards said Tuesday of the statewide stay-at-home order. He continued to ask residents to think twice about how necessary it go to public places.  

“You need to ask yourself, is that second trip to the grocery store necessary today?” he said. 

State officials are bracing for the Louisiana’s health care system to be rocked by an influx of patients needing immediate care and providers unprepared due to lack of resources. Hotels, makeshift “field hospitals” are on the table as the state prepares for a “worst-case” scenario.

Which is why businesses and residents are asked to be patient and stay home, Edwards said.

“We are looking at a critical window to flatten this curve,” he said.  Public screening sites are expanding, including here in Acadiana. Iberia Parish is expected to open a site on Wednesday.

On Tuesday morning, the state requested a Major Disaster Declaration in an effort to combat the spreading virus.

For those Louisiana residents who are able to stay at home and want to help, Edwards encouraged monetary donations to local food banks. The state’s blood supply is also in desperate need of donors.

March 22, 2020, ORIGINAL: Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards has issued a stay-at-home order due to the coronavirus on Monday, March 23 at 5 p.m. It will expire on April 13 unless otherwise noted by the governor.

Edwards has issued a closure for all non-essential businesses. Edwards has limited group gatherings to 10 people, as recommended by the federal government. However, state borders are NOT being closed.

The following are “essential activities” and are allowed:

MORE ESSENTIAL BUSINESSES: https://www.cisa.gov/identifying-critical-infrastructure-during-covid-19 adf

The following are examples businesses that should close:

Edwards said the stay-at-home order was necessary as Louisiana has the fastest growth rate of any state or nation in the world. In America, Louisiana has the third-highest rate of infection per capita — just behind New York and Washington state. Without taking these measures, Edwards said Louisiana is on track to have an infection rate similar to Italy or Spain, which are currently the worst two nations for coronavirus on the planet.

“There’s no reason to believe we won’t be the next Italy,” said Edwards.

Countries like South Korea also started out on a similar trajectory as Louisiana, but also implemented strict measures to keep people isolated to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“We can get past this, but we’re going to have to take these mitigation measures seriously,” he said.

Edwards said the state is working on creating more ICU beds in the event that they’re needed, and he said he is also asking medical personnel who aren’t using personal protection equipment to donate them to local hospitals.

He also asked people not to spread rumors that state borders were going to be closed. He called those rumors “not true.”

Effective immediately, he said the state’s dashboard that reports the number of cases and deaths related to coronavirus will only be updated once a day at noon going forward.

Download and read the governor’s full order below:

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