UPDATE: On Thursday, the state updated the presumptive case list, removing Iberia Parish from that list. The Louisiana Department of Health says that Iberia Parish was placed on the list following information from a patient that is presumptive positive. That patient is currently a resident of Lafourche Parish and is being treated there.
Total presumed positive cases in the state, as of 9:00 a.m. on Thursday stands at 14
There are 13 presumptive cases of COVID-19 in Louisiana, according to Gov. John Bel Edwards. Those cases were reported in Orleans, Jefferson, St. Tammany, Iberia, Lafourche and Caddo parishes. The majority of patients are hospitalized at this time.
Officials say they are pretty sure that there now is "community spread" in the New Orleans area. That means that people have tested positive who haven't traveled to a country with a high number of cases, or had contact with people who have or with anyone known to have the virus.
"We do have community spread in the Orleans area," the governor said. "That is based on the fact that we've done enough epidemiological investigation and know that some individuals are not contracting this infection by travel, and can't identify individuals they had contact with."
That's expected, as is the increase in the number of cases, he added.
"We expect the number of confirmed cases to increase over time, and it's what we've been told to expect to CDC," Edwards said.
Starting on Thursday, DHH will update positives and other information on the website every day at 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Here: Ldh.la.gov/coronavirus
"The most important thing people can do is to take the appropriate precautions. At some point number of cases will peak and the duration of this event will be known," Edwards said. "We want the peak to be as low as possible, and the duration to slow so that demand on health care providers is not all at one time. And that gets back to the very things we've been talking about, the precautions I'm imploring everyone to take very seriously."
Those precautions are: frequent and thorough handwashing, avoiding close contact with people and with sick people, covering your cough, and staying home if you are sick.
Also, reconsider visits to older friends and relatives, and those with chronic health conditions, to reduce their exposure to risk. Those folks should stay away from large gatherings, stay away from sick people, and reconsider any travel plans, he said. They shouldn't get on an airplane unless absolutely necessary, and they shouldn't get on a cruise, he said.
Edwards said there will be many cancellations of anticipated events in the coming weeks, but there's no way around that.
"Sometimes events won't be cancelled but will be changed to not allow spectators, which is what we're told will happen for March Madness events, including women's final four in New Orleans," Edwards said. "I would hope the people of Louisiana understand, these choices are tough but made in consultation with CDC, OPH and local governments. Cancelations are being done with public health and safety in mind. If we take care of ourselves now, in the future we will go back to enjoying things as normal. I can't tell you when that's going to be, or exactly what we will experience between now and then, but I can tell you this: the extent to which people engage in precautions will get us through this with the least amount of spread and disruption, and in the least amount of time."
Gov. John Bel Edwards is scheduled to hold a press conference Wednesday afternoon to provide an update on Louisiana's response to the novel coronavirus.
The conference will be held at 5:30 p.m., after a meeting of the state's Unified Command Group.
You can watch the conference on KATC and on katc.com/live.
Watch the governor's press conference live below: