On Monday it was reported that there is now a confirmed death in Calcasieu Parish from COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The confirmation of the death occurred after the noon update by the LDH and will be reflected in Tuesday's update.

Dr. Lacey Cavanaugh, Regional Medical Director for the Louisiana Department of Health, said at the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury public briefing, that there is no information available to the public about the deceased.

She added that the LDH website is only updating state numbers once a day now — at noon. This death will be recorded tomorrow.

“This was not all that unexpected,” she explained. “We know that this virus is serious. That is why we have done all of the measures within the community that have been done, to try to protect people.”

Cavanaugh said that regardless of the number of cases, people need to stay home. “Even if you're young and healthy,” she said.

Though it's more likely that the virus will have a severe impact on the elderly and those with other  chronic health conditions, it is still affecting young people. “This virus can cause severe symptoms, hospitalization and death, even in young people,” Cavanaugh said. “It's a time to remember that this is real and that real lives are at stake.”

As of noon Monday, there were 1,172 cases of COVID-19, scattered throughout 41 parishes, up from the 837 reported Sunday morning. There have been 34 deaths in total. There are four official cases in Calcasieu, two in Allen and one in Beauregard.

“We know that there are probably more cases out there,” said Cavanaugh. “Remember that there is a delay from the time that a person gets tested to the time that those test results then come in.” She said it could be as many as two days before a test result is received and confirmed by the LDH.

Cavanaugh reminded the public that anyone who has had close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 must self-isolate — meaning don't visit with anyone else — for 14 days.

Close contact is defined as being within six feet of that person for 30 minutes. So, too, should those who have experienced symptoms but testing wasn't available and who were told by a medical facility to go home unless they need medical care.

“In those cases, you need to be symptom-free for three days, no fever, no ibuprofen or Tylenol to cover up your fever and not coughing anymore,” she said. “For at least three days. And it has to be seven days from when you first started having symptoms, before you would be considered not infectious anymore.”

Cavanaugh was asked about the face masks several local organizations are sewing for health care providers. She said they should only be used if there is not other option. She said they've not been proven to stop the virus. “Wearing a surgical mask is not going to protect you from breathing in (the virus) if someone else is coughing next to you,” she said. “Homemade masks are not tested and tried, and more than likely than likely not going to have a fine enough particle-sized filter to be effective against a virus like this, which is very, very small.”

She noted that the CDC has added some guidance to their website that in extreme dire cases, when there is absolutely nothing else available, maybe some of the homemade masks could be better than nothing.

Cavanaugh advised everyone to take care of their mental health. She said stress not only does damage to mental health, but prolonged stress can weaken the immune system.