LOUISIANA — Leaders are asking the public not to panic as the first person has tested “presumptive positive” for coronavirus in a Louisiana lab.
The individual is from Jefferson Parish and is being hospitalized in New Orleans.
Monday afternoon at the opening of the 2020 state legislative session, Governor John Bel Edwards let everyone know about the first and only known case of COVID-19 in the state.
“It’s happening around the country and in other states”, Edwards told media in the following press conference. “Once they get their first one, they typically get another one and so forth, and we don’t have any reason to believe that that is not going to be the case in Louisiana.”
Governor Edwards promised to be “transparent”, “timely”, and “factual” with every presumptive positive case of coronavirus. The first of which was discovered Monday morning in New Orleans.
According to Mayor LaToya Cantrell, the individual went to an emergency room with severe pneumonia and was eventually tested for COVID-19, which came out presumptive positive, which is a term for when a state lab has a positive case but the CDC needs to confirm the results for a positive case.
“Our hospital community is moving forward as if it is officially positive, making sure that they’re taking the proper steps of tracing that will be necessary”, explained Mayor Cantrell.
A contact tracing is underway to learn where the presumably infected person was before and who he or she may have been exposed to. No name, age, or gender information was provided.
Dr. Alex Billioux of The Louisiana Department of Health said, “What the team is doing right now is trying to find out who those individuals are who need to take more precautions. Anybody who’s been in contact with that case would be treated like somebody whose been to a country that has spread of COVID-19”.
He expects this not to be the first presumed case, “It looks as though this is going to continue to get worse for some period of time before it gets better, but how much worse is really dependent on upon how many people do the things we’re asking them to do.”
Although the CDC said the risk in Louisiana is still low, they recommend people wash their hands regularly with soap and water, avoid shaking hands, and stay home if you feel sick. The elderly and those with heart disease are most at risk and should not take a cruise or flight.
Edwards said he didn’t want to use the word “panic”, but emphasized, “We can limit this, but it’s going to require everybody doing their part”.
The state has 2,000 COVID-19 test kits available now to test several hundred people, and commercial testing kits arriving in the state later this week will expand capabilities.
Health leaders met Monday evening to discuss the coronavirus developments. The Louisiana COVID-19 task force meets Tuesday. Governor Edwards said they will discuss a new series of recommendations for travel, events, and more.
35 states including D.C. (but not including Louisiana) have coronavirus with nearly 700 cases. If you think you are sick with influenza or the Coronavirus call your health care provider or the Department of Health Hotline at 855-523-2652.
For more information on the coronavirus, go to http://coronavirus.gov.