As coronavirus spreads, we'll be updating this live blog with the latest news on new cases of COVID-19 and the response from Louisiana, New Orleans, health care institutions, schools, festivals and more.
So much has happened and there's a lot more to come. We want to save you the load time and keep these blogs short.
You'll find each day's live blog at the top of WWNO.org.
Here are a few go-to resources:
Too much to keep up with? Sign up for our New Orleans Public Radio newsletter and we'll send you a news roundup at the end of each week. Or, if you're in Baton Rouge, sign up for WRKF's weekly newsletter.
March 25, 2020
Morial Convention Center will be used to house up to 3,000 COVID-19 patients, ideally those recovering from ICU stays at local hospitals, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said in a press conference Wednesday.
The goal is to free up more space at the hospitals to treat critically ill patients.
The state’s three remaining abortion clinics have closed temporarily as a result of state health department orders linked to the coronavirus outbreak.
The closures came after Louisiana anti-abortion groups criticized abortion clinics for operating during the pandemic, alleging clinics could be aiding the spread of the virus.
While elective, abortion is a procedure with a stark time limit in Louisiana — it’s banned after 22-weeks of pregnancy, and those wanting a medication abortion must have one even earlier.
The City of New Orleans has announced a partnership between World Central Kitchen and Hands On New Orleans to provide free meal delivery service to home-bound, low-income seniors and chronically ill residents — those at a greater risk of severe illness if exposed to COVID-19.
Starting Monday, World Central Kitchen will prepare and package individual meals following USDA certification and weight requirements for seniors. Batches of refrigerated meals will be delivered to the door of those in need on Mondays and Thursdays by volunteers working with Hands On New Orleans and the United Way of Southeast Louisiana.
Volunteer drivers are needed to pick up and deliver multiple days worth of meals. Additionally, volunteer callers are needed to conduct follow-up checks to make sure meal recipients receive their food as scheduled, maintain good health and maintain good spirits.
Callers will be able to participate from the safety of their homes.
- Are 18 years or older (Drivers may not be older than 59)
- Have not experienced symptoms that could be related to COVID-19 in the last 14 days
- Have not been around anyone who has COVID-19 in the last 14 days
- Have not traveled to a foreign country in the last 14 days
- Have not been on a cruise or been in an airport in the last 14 days
- Have not attended an event where more than 50 people were in attendance in the last 14 days
New Orleanians' next sewage and water bills will only provide an estimate of what they owe, the Sewage and Water Board announced today.
It also announced that it won't be charging late fees in April and May.
The meter-reading ream is "experiencing severe staff shortages," according to a press release. "Very few" employees have tested positive for COVID-19 and others who were in direct contact with them are uner precautionary quaratine.
Per the press release, here's how an estimated bill will be calculated:
- Take your four previous readings, two of which are required to be actual readings (not estimates)
- Calculate how many gallons of water you use each day on average
- Multiply that by the number of days in the present billing period
Many of the cultural traditions in New Orleans, and South Louisiana more generally, set the region apart from the rest of the country. And one of the biggest ways is how we honor the lives of our loved ones after they’ve died.
In many parts of the country, solemn mourning takes precedent. Here, celebration plays a part, most evident in the jazz funeral tradition.
Still, mourning usually means gathering with our friends and family, something complicated by social distancing restrictions in place to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.
To get a better sense of how public health restrictions are changing funerals in the city, New Orleans Public Radio spoke with Patrick Schoen, managing partner at Jacob Schoen and Son Funeral Directors.
Sixty-five people are now dead and 1,795 people are known to be sick with COVID-19 in Louisiana, according to the state health department.
That's 19 more deaths since yesterday, and another 407 reported cases — the largest jumps for both counts since the first case was recoreded in Louisiana on March 9.
The state lab has completed 2,037 tests and commercial labs have completed 9,414 tests.
There are known cases of COVID-19 in 48 of Louisiana's 64 parishes.
There are 827 known cases in Orleans Parish and 37 people have died there. Jefferson Parish has been hit second-hardest, with 359 known cases and seven people dead.
In East Baton Rouge Parish, 75 people are known to have COVID-19 and three are dead.
You can see a full list of cases and deaths by parish on the Louisiana Department of Health's dashboard.
President Donald Trump approved Gov. John Bel Edwards’ request for a Major Disaster Declaration late Tuesday night, paving the way for Louisiana to receive additional federal aid as the state fights the coronavirus.
Louisiana is just the fourth state to receive such a designation.
With the major disaster declaration, the federal government will cover 75 percent of any cost incurred by state, tribal and eligible local governments fighting the outbreak.
March 24, 2020
NOLA.com's Ramon Antonio Vargas reports that five New Orleans Police Department officers are sick with COVID-19 and about four dozen others are in self-quarantine.
The department says their absences “have not compromised the operation of any unit in the department.”
In mid-March, the members of the New Orleans-based band Bon Bon Vivant found themselves stranded in Reno. The spread of the coronavirus had begun to shut down cities across the U.S., canceling their tour gigs. Then it started to snow.
“We were just sitting around on Sunday with nothing to do, snowed in. All of us feeling kind of anxious,” said Jeremey Kelly, the band’s saxophone player.
Cooped up in a hotel, they decided to try something they've never really done before: a Facebook Live concert. The band took requests, playing for over an hour and fielding tips through Venmo.
They figured a handful of their friends would log in, just to see that they're doing okay. Instead, 1,500 people viewed the concert.
“People, like, sent us messages, saying, ‘We were just tangoing in the kitchen, barefoot,’” Kelly said. “And, ‘We were all eating dinner and we turned you on the Apple TV, and we just watched your show while we ate dinner and the kids thought it was so much fun.’ ”
The band earned about $600, some of which they shared with musician friends back home in New Orleans who've lost their gigs — and livelihoods — to the coronavirus shutdown. Kelly said they plan to hold more live streaming concerts to support themselves and their community, and to give people some joy in the time of the coronavirus.
NOLA Public Schools has bought 10,000 Chromebook laptops for its students to improve distance learning from their homes, the school district said in a press release Tuesday afternoon.
By order of Gov. John Bel Edwards, all public schools are closed until at least April 13. Across the state, school districts are trying to facilitate distance learning for their students by providing physical work packets and links to online education resources.
But not every household has the same access to the internet, so NOLA Public Schools has taken several steps to provide online access to students at the schools it oversees. In addition to the laptops, the school district purchased 5,000 wireless hotspots last week.
Twelve more people have died of COVID-19 in Louisiana, according to the latest report from the Louisiana Department of Health.
In all, 46 people have died, and 1,388 have been diagnosed with the disease. The number of known cases is up by 216 from yesterday.
The state lab has completed 1,852 tests and commercial labs have completed 6,751 tests.
There are COVID-19 cases in 43 of Louisiana's 64 parishes. That's two more parishes since yesterday.
There are 675 known cases in Orleans Parish, and 26 people there have died. There are 293 in Jefferson Parish, where 6 people have died. East Baton Rouge has 58 cases and two people have died.
Gov. John Bel Edwards has requested a Major Disaster Declaration for Louisiana, a move that would make more federal support available to state and local agencies.
"The response to the spread of COVID-19 has overwhelmed the capabilities of state and local resources," Edwards wrote in a letter to the president. "I have determined that this incident is of such severity and maginitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the State and local governments."
Edwards wrote that as of March 22, the response to the coronavirus had cost state and local governments more than $65.6 million.
The request details the amount of personal protective equipment it has distributed, including more than 100,000 face shields, 76,000 Tyvek suits and 48,000 N95 respirators.
March 23, 2020
At 7 p.m., Louisiana Public Broadcasting and Gov. John Bel Edwards will host a live discussion and Q&A on the coronavirus outbreak in Louisiana.
You can submit questions here, tune in on 89.9 and 89.3, or watch here:
Online applications are being accepted at the SPCA shelters in Algiers and Plaquemines for getting dogs and cats out of their cages and into homes.
Ana Zorrilla, chief executive officer of the Louisiana SPCA, said fostering can last for several weeks, ut it’s up to the person.
“With this social distancing and isolation it can be a really lonely time for people," Foster said. "And so not only is it good for the pet to be in a home but for the people to have something to take care of, a reason to go out and take a walk, a way to have companionship and love, even if it is just for a short period of time.”
Elizabeth Stubbs works on the foster program. She said even if the animal can’t get a permanent home, a break is beneficial.
“Honestly sometimes the dogs do better once they come back from foster because our fosters do basic manner training, things like that," she said. "And so we’re able to have the dogs more mentally stimulated by the time they come back. They’re more well-trained and that helps us a lot.”
Zorrilla says there are cats and dogs available with new litters that must stay together when they’re very young. Single animals are available and can be seen on the shelter website, along with foster applications.
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.
Since Sunday morning, 14 more people have died of COVID-19 in Louisiana, the state health department reported at noon.
In all, 34 people have died.
The number of known cases of COVID-19 in the state is now 1,172. That's a 40 percent increase from Sunday morning.
The state lab has completed 1,634 tests. Commercial labs have completed 4,314 tests.
There are known COVID-19 cases in 41 of the 64 parishes. Orleans Parish has the most known cases, 567, as well has the highest number of deaths, 20.
Jefferson Parish has 252 known cases, and five people there have died.
East Baton Rouge: 43 cases, 1 death
Ascension: 26 cases, 1 death
Ouachita: 9 cases, 1 death
Rapides: 8 cases, 1 death
St. James: 8 cases, 1 death
West Baton Rouge: 4 cases, 2 death
Webster: 3 cases, 1 death
Washington: 2 cases, 1 death
Catahoula: 1 case, 1 death
St. Tammany: 47 cases
Caddo: 34 cases
St. John the Baptist: 16 cases
Lafourche: 15 cases
St. Bernard: 15 cases
St. Charles: 15 cases
Terrebonne: 14 cases
Bossier: 12 cases
Iberville: 10 cases
Lafayette: 9 cases
Plaquemines: 8 cases
De Soto: 5 cases
Livingtston: 5 cases
Calcasieu: 4 cases
Iberia: 3 cases
St. Landry: 3 cases
Tangipahoa: 3 cases
Allen: 2 cases
Claiborne: 2 cases
Evangeline: 2 cases
Lincoln: 2 cases
Natchitoches: 2 cases
Richland: 2 cases
Acadia: 1 case
Assumption: 1 case
Avoyelles: 1 case
Beauregard: 1 case
Bienville: 1 case
Grant: 1 case
St. Mary 1 case
The increase in cases comes as more and more people have been tested in the state, as new testing sites have come online.
Three drive-through sites have opened in the last several days in the New Orleans area: in the parking lot of the Mahalia Jackson Theater, in the parking lot of the UNO Lakefront Arena, and in the parking lot of the Alario Center in Westwego.
Anyone with symptoms can get tested for the coronavirus at those sites, though each can only perform a limited number of tests per day. Each site in Orleans Parish can perform 100 tests per day. The Alario Center location can perform 250 per day.
The Louisiana National Guard is helping coordinate the testing at each location.
On Friday, Mayor LaToya Cantrell issued a stay-at-home order to help limit the spread of the coronavirus. People are only allowed to leave their homes to do essential things — like go to the grocery store or pharmacy -- or to exercise. Only a few industries are allowed to report to work.
Governor John Bel Edwards issued similar, statewide restrictions over the weekend.
March 22, 2020
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards says all residents should avoid all nonessential travel and stay at home as much as possible during the coronavirus outbreak. Edwards announced the "stay-at-home" order at a press conference Sunday afternoon. He says it will go into effect Monday at 6 p.m.
The order follows similar "shelter in place" directives issued by governors in California, New York and Illlinois.
According to Edwards, residents are allowed to do essential tasks such as going to medical appointments, grocery stores and pharmacies. A similar call for travel restrictions was announced last Friday by New Orleans mayor Latoya Cantrell.
The Louisiana Department of Health's latest update showed 837 positive COVID-19 cases across the state. Most have been reported in New Orleans metro area tbut the latest statistics show more than half of the state's 64 parishes have reported positive cases. 20 people have died so far.
March 21, 2020
The total number of positive cases of the coronavirus in Louisiana climbed to 585 with the overwhelming majority reported in New Orleans metro area, according to statistics released Saturday by the Louisiana Department of Health.
The health department also reported that two more people have died from the virus raising the death toll to 16.
March 20, 2020
Another two people have died of COVID-19 in Louisiana, according to the state health department.
The total number of known cases in the state has reached 537. The cases are in 28 of 64 counties. The vast majority — 326 — are in Orleans Parish.
The state has completed 1,084 tests. The health department is now reporting the number of tests completed in commercial labs: 847