Louisiana Virus Cases Jump to 347, Spread to Rural Areas

Aptopix Virus Outbreak Louisiana Schools
School Resource Officer Donald Lee locks the gates of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School for Science and Technology, after all the students left, in New Orleans, Friday, March 13, 2020. AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

BATON ROUGE (AP) — The number of people known to be infected with the new coronavirus in Louisiana jumped to 347 in figures the state posted Thursday, up from 280 a day earlier.

The latest numbers showed New Orleans still leading the state in the number of people testing positive for the virus that causes the COVID-19 disease, which has been linked to eight Louisiana deaths. There were 231 cases there as of Thursday morning.

But it’s increasingly showing up in other cities as well as suburban and rural areas, across 17 of Louisiana’s 64 parishes.

The Lafayette area in southwestern Louisiana reported two cases, and Plaquemines Parish, the largely rural coastal parish at southeast Louisiana’s tip, reported its first case.

The vast majority of people recover within weeks after catching this virus, and for most people, it causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. But for older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause severe illness requiring hospitalization.

Gov. John Bel Edwards cautioned Louisianans to get ready for a surge in coronavirus cases as testing capacity grows statewide.

Edwards has closed K-12 public schools, bars, gyms, casinos and movie theaters and has limited restaurants to delivery and takeout until at least April 13. Public gatherings of more than 50 people are banned. New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell has prohibited all public and private gatherings.

Four of the people who died from the virus lived in the New Orleans retirement home Lambeth House, which has seen a cluster of cases. There have been two other New Orleans deaths, one in Jefferson Parish and the death of a 60-year-old person reported Thursday in St. James.

 

By AP reporters Melinda Deslatte and Kevin McGill

 

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