The Latest on the Coronavirus Outbreak

New Louisiana unemployment applications lowest since March

Louisiana News

NEW ORLEANS (KTAL/AP) — About 28,800 Louisiana residents filed for unemployment last week –more than 12 times as many as a year earlier, but the lowest number since pandemic restrictions began pounding the state’s economy.

The number of was down nearly 11,300 from the previous week, according to state and federal data. The agencies said about 321,700 Louisiana residents were receiving state unemployment payments last week as the coronavirus outbreak continued. That edged down about 3,400 from the previous week’s peak but was nearly 24 times the 13,500 on unemployment a year earlier.

Gov. John Bel Edwards issued a statement Friday on the state’s latest unemployment rate of 14.5 percent for April, which is slightly lower than the national rate of 14.7 percent.

“As Louisiana, like the rest of the nation, works to rebuild our economy, the unprecedented public health emergency brought on by COVID-19 is not only deeply impacting the health of our people but also the health of our economy,” said Gov. Edwards.

“However, as we battle this pandemic recession we know that we have come back before from such challenging times and we will again. We are committed to helping our people and our businesses get back on their feet in the safest way possible as soon as possible.

Since business restrictions in Louisiana were eased only Friday, “it is impossible to determine if the phase 1 reopening had any effect on the total number of initial claims filed,” the Louisiana Workforce Commission said in an unsigned emailed statement.

It said more than 493,000 state residents have received nearly $1.9 billion in state unemployment and federal pandemic aid as the outbreak has battered the U.S. economy.

Shopping malls, fitness centers, barbers and hair and nail salons were able to reopen Friday at 25% capacity and casinos could reopen Monday. However, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced the changes May 11 to give companies time to prepare.

“We know that Louisianans are hardworking and want to work. Through the Louisiana Workforce Commission and Sec. Ava Dejoie, we are committed to connecting businesses and employees. Now more than ever we must be united in our efforts to keep the coronavirus at bay in order to get our economy moving forward for our employers, workers, communities and state,” said Gov. Edwards.  

The state Department of Health said about 36,500 people have diagnosed with the disease caused by the novel coronavirus and 2,506 have died. However, numbers of hospitalized patients and those on ventilation continued to drop, to 884 and 107 respectively.

Nearly two-thirds of the 1,188 new cases reported Thursday were from labs that had not sent in data before, and some of those cases dated back to late March, said Assistant Health Secretary Dr. Alex Billioux.

“We also have increased testing,” he said in a news release. “That only 6.1% of all these test results are positive is a good sign. Our goal is to keep that number below 10%, the goal set by the federal government.”

Billioux said officials believe they’re starting to see the effects of comprehensive testing in nursing homes and other “congregate settings” and at workplaces where outbreaks have occurred.

“This is what suppression of COVID-19 looks like—and it is critical to moving our state forward,” he said.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the highly contagious virus can cause severe symptoms and be fatal.

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