The Louisiana Department of Health has reported Louisiana’s first presumptive positive case of COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced Monday.
The patient is a Jefferson Parish resident who is hospitalized in Orleans Parish, Edwards’ office said.
Gov. Edwards said, “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. 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.”
“Encouragingly, we were able to test this patient due to recently broadened criteria,” said Stephen Russo, Interim Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health. “It’s critical to be able to catch COVID-19 early to prevent spread in our communities.”
“Now together we all—as a government, as health care systems and providers, as schools, businesses and as neighbors—must take action and be vigilant to prevent the spread of this virus in our great state,” Gov. Edwards said.
Louisiana will send the presumptive positive test to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for final confirmation of COVID-19. Louisiana officials say they will behave as if the test is an actual positive and take actions to contain the illness and assess the risk of spread while waiting for confirmation by the CDS.
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, officials say. 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.
There have been more than 400 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus infecting patients in the United States and 19 deaths, according to the CDC, which says 35 states including the District of Columbia have reported cases.