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Louisiana: Number of patients with new coronavirus up to 3

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Posted at 3:06 PM, Mar 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-10 19:08:36-04

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - The number of Louisiana residents who have tested positive for the new coronavirus grew to three Tuesday.

Gov. John Bel Edwards announced two additional "presumptive positive" cases of the COVID-19 disease caused by the virus, a day after Louisiana announced its first case.

The governor's office said all three people live in the New Orleans area. It provided no other details.

The positive test results were being sent to the Centers for Disease Control for final confirmation.

For most people, the new coronavirus 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 in a matter of weeks, as has happened with three-quarters of those infected in mainland China.

Edwards has urged people to remain calm, but to take precautions - such as regular handwashing and avoiding public spaces when sick - to help prevent spread of the virus.

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The Governor will hold a meeting of the Unified Command Group tomorrow afternoon, followed by a news conference at 4:30 p.m.

Currently, we have three presumptive positive cases of coronavirus in Louisiana, all in the New Orleans area. While we investigate the cases and travel of the individuals, we cannot disclose any additional information about these patients at this time. It is important that the public take measures to protect their health and reduce the spread of illness, including avoiding going out in public when you are sick, washing your hands, social distancing and disinfecting commonly used surfaces. Additionally, older people may consider additional measures like avoiding any kind of unnecessary airline travel and reducing their public interactions to avoid their potential exposure to illness. We know testing for COVID-19 is expanding this week as commercial labs come on board. We expect to see more presumptive positives in the coming days and weeks and I am asking all Louisianans to remain vigilant as we work to contain the spread of this and other illnesses."
Gov. Edwards
We are closely monitoring the updated information from the state health department, and remain in tight coordination with our partners on the local, state and federal level. The two new diagnoses are serious news, but not unexpected. Our public health leaders and our public safety leadership are actively reviewing next steps, and will provide guidance regarding potential changes and cancellations for public events once more information is known.
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell

The Louisiana Department of Health says additional tests will be administered to determine if more people have been infected after the department's epidimiology team performs an investigation of close contacts.

Dr. Alex Billioux, assistance secretary of the Office of Public Health, said officials believe first presumptive positive case announced yesterday is not travel-related and was community acquired.

A release continues:

"LDH is following the CDC's guidance and testing three groups of people: those who have traveled to certain areas and have symptoms, those who have had close contact with someone confirmed to have COVID-19 and have symptoms, and people with an unexplained acute respiratory illness.

The recent testing by the State Laboratory run by LDH's Office of Public Health includes samples from people who went to their doctor or to a hospital and had symptoms consistent with COVID-19: cough, headache or lower respiratory illness. Some patients had recently traveled to a geographic area with known COVID-19 activity, while others did not have such a travel history.

In other instances, OPH is using the tests for surveillance purposes. This is done using existing disease surveillance infrastructure that includes several hospitals and clinics throughout Louisiana. For COVID-19 surveillance, when patients are treated for respiratory illnesses, but are not diagnosed with influenza, swabbed samples are sent to the State Laboratory where the COVID-19 test is done. Following CDC guidance, a sampling of cases from each site are sent to the lab. This is a proven and effective system for the early detection of diseases, allowing health officials to take the appropriate next steps."

As of Tuesday, some commercial labs are equipped to conduct COVID-19 testing.

More information from the Louisiana Department of Health on the coronavirus, click here.