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14th case of coronavirus reported in Louisiana; Gov. Edwards, U.S. Surgeon General address response


BATON ROUGE, La. (KTAL/KMSS)/AP – The number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb in Louisiana.

According to the Louisiana Department of Health, there are now 14 presumptive positive cases. That’s up one from the 13 reported Wednesday afternoon. The CDC has yet to confirm if these tests are positive.

(Editor’s note: As of 4:45 p.m. Thursday, the number of presumptive COVID-19 cases in Louisiana has risen to 19.)

Gov. John Bel Edwards joined U.S. Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams and local elected officials for a discussion on Louisiana’s response to the coronavirus at 10 a.m. on Thursday morning.

During the discussion, Edwards announced new visiting restrictions at nursing homes and state prisons, according to a report from the Associated Press. Visitation to state prisons has been suspended for 30 days, while visitor access to nursing homes and hospitals will be limited in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus to vulnerable populations.

The governor also enacted travel restrictions on state employees. Meanwhile, the LSU school system announced its moving classes online. Sports events, including major basketball conference championships and games scheduled in New Orleans, have been cancelled. Baton Rouge Mayor Sharon Weston Broome has halted issuing permits for public events until further notice and the Louisiana Legislature has begun working on contingency plans for must-pass bills in case of a shutdown.

Edwards confirmed the cases are in Caddo, Jefferson, Lafourche, and Orleans parishes.

“We’re at an inflection point here,” Edwards said repeatedly. Of the restrictions, he added: “We are doing this for the protection of their loved one.”

The new case comes a day after Governor John Bel Edwards declared a public health emergency, opening doors of resources for local and state agencies to combat COVID-19.

Edwards said the state is ramping up testing for COVID-19, and Adams — in the state for a previously scheduled event — said he’s confident Louisiana has the needed testing capacity.

According to Gov. Edwards washing your hands and taking the basic precautions can help prevent the spread of the disease.

“We are moving from a containment posture to a mitigation posture in response to coronavirus,” said US Surgeon General.

However, both Edwards and Adams urge residents not to panic and they discourage them from getting tested if they don’t have symptoms, haven’t traveled to countries with large outbreaks of the virus or meet the other criteria outlined by the CDC.

“We don’t want to utilize our limited resources testing people willy-nilly,” Adams said. “We want to utilize our resources in a targeted manner to make sure people who are most at risk, people who are symptomatic can get a test done quickly, can get their results back quickly.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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