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Baton Rouge Sees Its First Deaths From COVID-19

Alissa Eckhert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAM

Two people who tested positive for COVID-19 in East Baton Rouge Parish died over the weekend, marking the first deaths attributed to the coronavirus in the capital city.

East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner Beau Clark announced Monday that a 90-year-old man from Woodville, Mississippi died on Saturday and a 44-year-old woman from Baton Rouge died on Sunday.

Both patients were awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test when they died. Clark’s office determined through lab tests that COVID-19 was the cause of death for both individuals.

“It is very unfortunate that now we’re having to report these deaths,” Clark said in a virtual press conference Monday morning. “We knew this day would come because this virus is very virulent and the fact that it is passed pretty aggressively and pretty rapidly amongst people.”

Clark said people with underlying health conditions — including people with chronic lung conditions, high blood pressure, heart diseases and those who smoke — are most vulnerable.

“All those folks, if they get this respiratory illness, can have a very challenging time trying to fight off the infection,” Clark said.

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state topped 1,000, and the Louisiana Department of Health is reporting that 34 people have died from the coronavirus so far.

Tthe LDH is reporting only one death in East Baton Rouge Parish. It tracks deaths by parish of residence, so the 90-year-old Woodville man who died in an East Baton Rouge Parish hospital would be counted in his home state of Mississippi.

The coroner’s office is investigating another Baton Rouge-area death to determine whether or not it was caused by COVID-19, but Clark said that person didn’t present many of the most common symptoms associated with the virus. Results of that death investigation should be made available early this week.

Clark did not say when the identities of the deceased would be released.

Paul Braun is WRKF's Capitol Access reporter.