Louisiana veterans cemeteries restart virus-delayed services


BATON ROUGE — Louisiana’s five veterans cemeteries have resumed conducting burial services that had been suspended because of the coronavirus outbreak, the state Department of Veterans Affairs announced Tuesday.

Seating will be limited in the shelter where the memorial services take place, and individuals from different households will be required to remain distanced from each other.

The veterans affairs agency said all attendees and employees will have to wear face coverings.

Specific rules also will govern the handling of floral arrangements.

The services had been temporarily halted starting March 17 because of the virus pandemic, after cases in the state had begun to escalate. But strict state regulations enacted in mid-March have since been loosened.

More than 43,000 cases of the COVID-19 disease caused by the coronavirus have been confirmed in Louisiana, according to the state health department, and 2,844 people have died. The state says nearly 34,000 people have recovered from COVID-19.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up within weeks. But for some, especially older adults and those with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness and be life-threatening.

Louisiana State University scientists will be testing sewage for genetic traces of the novel coronavirus in Baton Rouge.

The technique is being used in many places. But while most sewage systems use gravity to bring sewage to a central plant, flat cities like New Orleans and Baton Rouge must use pumping stations. Since Baton Rouge has more than 500 pumping stations, “we can get precise with our sampling,” environmental engineering professor John Pardue said in a news release Tuesday from LSU.

“We hope to be a key metric for any potential second wave of the virus in Baton Rouge,” he said.

Tulane University said a $1 million donation from Colorado cookbook author Elana Amsterdam and her husband, Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz, will let it more than triple its ability to test for COVID-19. Equipment bought with the money will enable 1,000 tests a day, up from 300, a news release said Monday.

Tulane said its lab ran about 3,000 tests from April 1 until mid-May. Those included almost 1,400 from Orleans Parish Prison, 300 from a clinic set up in the Morial Convention Center and 600 from patients of state mental health facilities.

Amsterdam and Katz are parents of a student at Tulane, university spokesman Keith Brannon said.

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