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2 new presumptive coronavirus cases are Orleans Parish residents

Governor John Bel Edwards tweeted the new information Tuesday afternoon.

NEW INFORMATION: First presumptive coronavirus case diagnosed in St. Tammany, Louisiana total up to 6


The Louisiana Department of Health is now reporting three presumptive cases of coronavirus in the New Orleans area. 

Governor John Bel Edwards tweeted the new information Tuesday afternoon.

"As we investigate these cases, we cannot disclose any additional information about these patients at this time."

A news release from the Louisiana Department of Health said that the two new cases are both residents of Orleans Parish and both are hospitalized here.

An email sent to LCMC employees said that the two new cases are being treated at University Medical Center and at Touro Hospital.

As Edwards tweeted the news of the new cases Tuesday, he added that testing is expanding.

"Testing for COVID-19 is expanding this week as commercial labs come on board. We expect to see more presumptive positives in the coming days and weeks and I am asking all Louisianans to remain vigilant as we work to contain the spread of this and other illnesses."

The cases are considered "presumptive" until officially confirmed by the Center for Disease Control. At this time, it is the only known case of the disease in the state. Edwards said that the test results will come in the next couple days.

An updated CDC map now shows they agency has received the reported case.  

Louisiana Public Health Hotline:  1-855-523-2652

"Louisiana has been preparing for this moment for many weeks," Edwards said. "The CDC still believes the risk to the general public is low, but we will work quickly and decisively to assess the risk of those around this patient."

An epidemiology team will now begin an investigation of people who may have come in contact with the patients, including healthcare workers. The Office of Public Health will then administer more tests to determine if those people have been infected.

The health department did not release any additional details about the patients.

Jefferson Parish school officials said they asked an employee from Boudreaux Elementary in Terrytown to stay home from work for 14 days after their roommate came in close contact with the first presumptive patient. Neither the employee nor roommate show signs of illness, officials said. 

On Tuesday, Jefferson Parish schools announced that they would not hold scheduled, in-person, parent-teacher conferences and that all field trips and large assemblies would be suspended. 

The patient is being treated at the VA Medical Center in New Orleans, according to an email sent to hospital staff. The email stated that the patient was admitted Friday night and deemed appropriate for COVID-19 testing by the state health department. 

Staff who interacted with the patient are being assessed for exposure and may be told to self-quarantine for two weeks, according to the email.

RELATED: Governor Edwards' full remarks on the coronavirus presumptive case in Louisiana

Edwards announced the first positive test for the virus as the Louisiana legislative session opened Monday.

“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,” Edwards said.

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said the city is ready and prepared for the virus.

"At this time, we believe the risk to the public remains low — but we are being vigilant and deliberate at every stage,” Cantrell said.

The mayor of New Orleans said that the city had no plans to cancel this weekend's St. Patrick's Day parade at this time.

Cantrell was met with a handful of protesters as she tried to start her press conference. The protesters were local hospitality workers who said they don't get paid sick days. The protesters chanted that "If we work sick, you get sick."

The recently formed Louisiana coronavirus task force was set to meet Tuesday to talk about protocols that may need to be put in place due to the virus. The group will evaluate impacts to travel and public events, such a festivals. 

As of Tuesday, no screening for COVID-19 was being conducted at the New Orleans Airport, officials announced.

MSY officials said they were conducting extra cleanings of hand rails, door handles and other frequently touched surfaces, and planned to add more hand sanitizer dispensers around the facility.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. These symptoms may appear 2 to 14 days after exposure.

Worldwide illnesses have ranged from mild to severe, including severe pneumonia that can result in hospitalization or death. 

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Older people and people with underlying health conditions including heart disease, lung disease or cancer seem to be at greater risk of serious illness.

People with recent travel to China, or have come in contact with someone who has recent travel and is ill, have a greater risk for becoming ill. 

Credit: TEGNA

What to do if you are sick:

If you recently traveled to an area affected by COVID-19 transmission, and you feel sick, stay home and call your doctor immediately. Do not go to the doctor without calling first.

If you have a fever, cough, or shortness of breath, call your primary care provider. If you do not have a primary care provider, call the Louisiana Department of Health hotline at 1-855-523-2652. 

If you are severely ill and you think you need to go to the hospital, call 9-1-1 or go to an emergency room.

Credit: TEGNA

How to Prevent the Spread

The virus is thought to spread between people in close contact (within 6 feet) and through droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

To prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Wash hands with soap and water often or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Especially wash hands after going to the bathroom, before eating and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Stay home if you feel sick to prevent the spread of germs.
  • Cover your cough with your elbow to prevent the spread of germs.

Treatments for COVID-19

There are no medications specifically approved for COVID-19. People with coronavirus should be treated with supportive care to help relieve symptoms. 

Some severe cases require going to the hospital, particularly in the elderly or those with underlying medical conditions.

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RELATED: This interactive map shows all reported coronavirus cases in the world

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Information from the New Orleans Health Department contributed to this report.

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