Edwards Urges Calm as Coronavirus Case Reported in Louisiana

Legislature Opening Louisiana
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, center, bumps elbows with state Rep. Patrick Jefferson, D-Homer, instead of his traditional handshake, as a precaution against the COVID-9 Coronavirus, as he walks down the aisle of the House Chambers for the opening of the 2020 general legislative session in Baton Rouge, La., Monday, March 9, 2020. Edwards subsequently announced to the legislature that Louisiana today had its first confirmed case of the virus in Jefferson Parish. Right is Edwards wife Donna Edwards. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A Louisiana resident has tested positive for the new coronavirus and is being kept in isolation in a New Orleans hospital, Gov. John Bel Edwards said Monday, as the state joins nearly three dozen others reporting cases of the disease caused by the virus.

Edwards said the patient is a resident of the New Orleans suburb of Jefferson Parish, but he offered no details about the patient’s background or how the person may have contracted the virus.

The patient’s positive test results were being sent to the Centers for Disease Control for final confirmation. The governor said confirmation may take several days, though he added: “We are confident in the result of our test.”

Edwards told lawmakers about the case Monday afternoon as Louisiana’s legislative session opened. He said people “must take action individually” to help prevent the spread of the virus. But he also urged calm.

“Now is the time for seriousness. There is no place for panic or hysteria,” the Democratic governor told a joint gathering of the House and Senate.

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.

The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover. In mainland China, where the virus first exploded, more than 80,000 people have been diagnosed and more than 58,000 have so far recovered.

Louisiana’s governor was meeting Monday evening with health care officials, including hospital and nursing home representatives, to talk about ongoing emergency preparedness and response work.

“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,” Edwards said.

The state’s public health office has started an investigation, he said, to determine which people have been in close contact with the patient, the risk of spread and the possible need to quarantine people.

“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,” Edwards said.

 

By AP reporter Melinda Deslatte

 

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