Gov. John Bel Edwards announced Tuesday that another child has died as the result of MIS-C, an inflammatory syndrome linked to COVID-19. This marks the fourth death out of 44 children ranging in age from 2 months to 19 years of age who have contracted the disease in Louisiana.

Dr. Alex Billioux, with the Louisiana Office of Public Health, said increased testing in children has resulted in an increase in reported COVID-19 cases.

Billioux reported that symptoms parents should watch for include fever, abdominal pain, nausea, respiratory problems, diarrhea, rash, bloodshot eyes and exhaustion. He said not all children will exhibit the same symptoms. The condition most often affects one of three major organ systems: the heart, lungs or kidney.

But, he said, about half of the children have two compromised and 40 percent of all have heart problems. Billioux said the number of children contracting MIS-C isn't a large enough sample size to determine a pattern that would indicate likely candidates for the condition or a treatment plan. He said MIS-C usually trails COVOID-19 symptoms by “several days, if not longer.”

There have been 11,382 children in the state diagnosed with COVID-19.

Billioux noted that LDH case numbers Monday didn't reflect a true total. He said the discrepancy was due to lab results being assigned to the Sunday report, rather than Monday, because of changes in lab reporting times. The issue has been corrected.

Edwards reported that the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations has decreased by 44 since Monday and 262 since the state's second peak on July 27.

While hospitalizations and positive cases have been declining, hospitals throughout the state are still “stressed,” according to the governor. Currently 15 hospitals, down from 28 one week ago, are reporting no ICU availability and staff shortages continue to be a problem for the majority of hospitals.

He reminded residents that these decreases must continue in order to facilitate the safe opening of public schools and universities, which have already begun in some parishes.

Speaking about masks, crowd size limits and bar closures, Edwards noted that a decrease in positive cases and hospitalizations began 16 days after the mandates were issued. He said many people don't understand why, if they don't feel sick, they should wear a mask.

“Those individuals totally miss the point,” he said. “Up to 40 percent of the people with COVID-19 are totally asymptomatic. They don't know they have it. If they wait until they develop a symptom to put a mask on, they're never going to put a mask on but they are going to be spreading that virus.

“That's happening every single day, here in Louisiana and around the country and around the world,” he continued. The governor urged state residents to reduce their trips to places like the grocery store and bank by 50 percent. Edwards said the only way to stop the the spread of the virus is to follow the recommended safety measures. “It really is simple,” he said. “Even if it's not easy.”