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Further precautions in place after first coronavirus case in Louisiana

John DuPont
Plaquemine Post South

Gov. John Bel Edwards on Monday reiterated his call for precautions over panic after the state’s first presumptive case of the COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus.

His announcement – less than two hours after his State of the State Address – followed a report by the Louisiana Department of Health that a Jefferson Parish resident is being hospitalized in Orleans Parish as the first presumptive case.

While this is the first time that we can confirm we have a positive coronavirus case, Louisiana has been preparing for this moment for many weeks,” Edwards said. “The Center for Disease Control 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.”

The state will send the presumptive positive case to the CDC for final confirmation of COVID-19. State official will move forward as if the test is an actual positive and will take actions to contain the illness and assess the risk of spread.

He urged against panic over what remains a relatively low count nationwide in comparison to other viruses.

Panic would be counterproductive,” Edwards said. “We need to take it seriously, but the precautions are very productive and should be second nature anyway because they’re the same precautions you should take against the flu.

We don’t panic every time we have a flu outbreak,” he said. “Panic is certainly not the right thing to do.”

At least 35 states including the District of Columbia have reported cases of the Coronavirus. The risk for contracting the virus remains low in the United States, Edwards said.

He established a COVID-19 Task Force to lead Louisiana’s planning for different scenarios leading to the spread of the coronavirus. It will offer guidance not only to the Governor and the Unified Command Group, but also to state agencies, local governments, businesses and organizations.

Senior citizens and others more prone to illness should take additional precautions or testing, Edwards said.

The Office of Public Health’s epidemiology team will begin an investigation of people who have come in close contact with the patient, including health care workers, to determine the risk of spread.

OPH will administer additional COVID-19 tests to determine if more people have been infected. Some people at risk may be quarantined for 14 days, even if their initial test is not positive.

State officials encourage Louisianans to take the following proactive steps to protect the health of themselves and those around them:

  • Cover your cough.
  • Stay home if you are sick
  • Wash your hands frequently thoroughly with soap and water, or with a hand sanitizer containing at least 60 percent alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
  • Avoiding close contact (within six feet) with those who are sick.

For more information on the state’s response to the coronavirus, visit LDH.louisiana.gov/Coronavirus.