BATON ROUGE, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Governor John Bel Edwards has declared a state of emergency in Louisiana after announcing that there are now 13 presumptive cases in the state, including one in Caddo Parish.
A total of six presumptive cases were confirmed in the state as of Wednesday morning and that number rose in a matter of hours with the seven new cases announced late Wednesday afternoon. There are now cases in Orleans, Jefferson, St. Tammany, Lafourche, Iberia, and Caddo Parish, according to Edwards.
(Updated 3/11/2020 5:30 p.m.)
The Louisiana Department of Health had tested 43 people for the virus as of Wednesday afternoon. The department expects more tests — positive and negative — in the coming days, especially as commercial tests become available.
“We currently have 13 presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in Louisiana, including 7 new cases today. We are expecting more cases in the coming days and weeks. As we learn more, we know that there is community spread in Louisiana and I am asking all Louisianans to remain vigilant and take important measures to protect their health and reduce the spread of illness,” Gov. Edwards said. “This is a constantly changing situation, and we have been working with our state and federal health officials for some time now. As we expect more presumptive positive cases, a declaration of public health emergency is necessary to allow state agencies to thoroughly prepare for any eventuality related to public health needs and deploy additional resources to assist local authorities.”
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The emergency declaration came following a meeting of the Unified Command Group Wednesday afternoon. Additionally, the governor says the declaration addresses efforts to prevent price gouging should that become necessary as well as limits international travel for state employees to Level 2 and Level 3 countries as designated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC.
The presumptive positive tests will be sent to the CDC for final confirmation.
Some patients had recently traveled to a geographic area with known COVID-19 activity, while others did not have such a travel history.
Advice for the public
State officials encourage Louisianans to take the following proactive steps to protect the health of themselves and those around them:
• Stay home if you are sick.
• Cover your cough.
• Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water, or with a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
• Disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
• Avoid close contact (within six feet) with those who are sick.
Symptoms can include fever, cough and shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. CDC believes at this time that symptoms of COVID-19 may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure.