The Louisiana Department of Health has reported Louisiana’s first presumptive positive case of COVID-19, commonly referred to as coronavirus, according to the Governor's Office. Officals say a Jefferson Parish resident is hospitalized right now in Orleans Parish. At this time, there is only one known case of the illness in the state.
Just minutes ago, while I was on a conference call with Vice President Mike Pence about the coronavirus, I learned that we have a presumptive positive case of coronavirus in Louisiana, a Jefferson Parish resident who is hospitalized in Orleans Parish. It still must be confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Understand that we are treating this as a positive case and this confirmation process will not slow us down from taking any necessary actions to continue monitoring and preventing the spread of this virus.
I have promised that we would be transparent about this and we will. Later this afternoon, I will be joined by public health officials for a news conference to answer questions.
Now together we all—as a government, as health care systems and providers, as schools, businesses and as neighbors—must take action and be vigilant to prevent the spread of this virus in our great state.
The novel coronavirus and preventing the spread of illness has been an increased focus over the past weeks and months, as we see more cases pop up all over the country.
In response, I launched a Task Force that is leading the planning effort for different scenarios involving COVID-19 and our state agencies have been coordinating with the federal government and each other to ensure that we are preparing for and responding to this public health threat properly.
Governor John Bel Edwards made that announcement in his planned Opening Legislative Session remarks at 1 p.m. and will be having a press conference at 3:30 p.m. joined by public health officials for a media conference in the Governor’s Press Room on the Fourth Floor of the State Capitol at 3:30 p.m.
Gov. Edwards said, “While today is the first time that we can confirm that we have a presumptive positive coronavirus case, Louisiana has been preparing for this moment for many weeks. The CDC still believes the risk to the general public is low, but we will work quickly and decisively to assess the risk to those around this patient.”
“Encouragingly, we were able to test this patient due to recently broadened criteria,” said Stephen Russo, Interim Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health. “It’s critical to be able to catch COVID-19 early to prevent spread in our communities.”
The state will now send the presumptive positive test to the CDC for final confirmation of COVID-19. The Office of Public Health’s epidemiology team will also begin an investigation of people who have come in close contact with the patient, including health care workers, to determine the risk of spread. Some people at risk may be quarantined for 14 days, even if their initial test is not positive.