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La. sees another surge in virus deaths, cases

Thursday, March 26, 2020

There were 19 new coronavirus deaths reported by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Wednesday, bringing the total number to 65 since the outbreak began.

The number of deaths is up 35% from Tuesday, the biggest one-day increase in the state so far.

Lincoln Parish’s totals remained unchanged since Tuesday, with two confirmed cases and no deaths reported.

There have now been 1,795 coronavirus cases reported in 48 of Louisiana’s 64 parishes, an increase of 400 since Tuesday.

Wednesday’s results continued an increasing number of cases, but that trend was expected as tests performed at commercial labs throughout Louisiana join statewide figures.

Louisiana has more than doubled its known cases of the virus since Monday, with 958 of the 1,795 positive tests reported since Sunday.

President Donald Trump granted a federal disaster declaration for Louisiana on Tuesday night, acknowledging the scale of Louisiana’s outbreak and unlocking millions of dollars in federal aid for the state’s response.

The designation, which had been sought by Gov. John Bel Edwards, adds Louisiana to a list that includes California, Washington and New York to get reimbursement for certain expenses dating back to Jan. 20 and other forms of assistance.

Edwards said that Louisiana has the thirdhighest rate of confirmed virus cases per capita, behind only New York and California.

All buildings and overnight facilities at Louisiana state parks are temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic according to Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser. Buildings at all state historic sites are also closed.

Three state parks — Bayou Segnette, Chicot, and Lake Bistineau state parks — have been converted into isolation sites that can receive quarantined patients who can’t go home, and 26 people were staying at those sites by Tuesday evening, according to the governor’s office. Edwards also has asked the Trump administration to set up a military field hospital in the state.

Louisiana is also working to contract with hotels to provide additional hospital beds as needed, Edwards said.

In addition, officials have issued a statewide burn ban for Louisiana.

The burn ban was issued in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Officials say COVID-19 will continue to require additional response efforts from the state’s emergency responders and that they hope the burn ban will ease the burden on first responders.

Private burning will only be allowed by permission of the local fire department or local government. This order became effective as of 8 a.m. Wednesday and shall remain in effect until rescinded.

“This burn ban is necessary to supplement the governor’s ‘stay home’ order aimed at mitigating the spread of COVID-19 due to the anticipation that there may be an increase in open burning occurring across the state as families look for ways to pass the time at home,” said State Fire Marshal H. “Butch” Browning. “This order will assist in preventing potential fire-related dangers that could result in unnecessary fire service response as well as diminish airborne irritants caused by burning.”