BATON ROUGE (AP) — The number of Louisiana residents who have tested positive for coronavirus jumped Friday to 33, centered largely in the New Orleans area, according to the state health department's latest figures.
Gov. John Bel Edwards planned to meet Friday afternoon with New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell, as the COVID-19 disease caused by the virus was expected to continue spreading.
Friday morning's latest tally of 33 "presumptive positive" tests was up from 19 a day earlier. The positive tests are awaiting confirmation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The number of parishes with infected residents has grown to eight, with most of those in the New Orleans area, but one case has been identified in northwest Louisiana, in Caddo Parish.
Edwards has declared a public health emergency. State prisons have suspended visitation for 30 days, and hospitals and nursing homes are limiting visitor access, in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus to vulnerable populations.
For most people, the virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. Most people recover within weeks, as has happened with three-quarters of those infected in mainland China.
Events around Louisiana, like around the country, were being canceled. The Southern University System joined the Louisiana State University System and several New Orleans universities in starting to move all of its classes online. The Louisiana Legislature, only one week into its three-month session, began working on contingency plans for must-pass bills, such as the budget — in case lawmakers decide to shut down work early.