Louisiana virus death toll: 884; hospitalizations up by 50

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The number of deaths related to COVID-19 in Louisiana rose to 884 Monday, 44 higher than a day earlier, according to the latest figures from the state health department.

The number of people hospitalized with the disease caused by the virus was 2,134. That’s 50 more than a day earlier. The number of those requiring ventilators was 461 — a slight increase from Sunday but still well below last week’s numbers.

State officials have said social distancing efforts appear to be slowing the growth in serious coronavirus illnesses in Louisiana. However, Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards has said it’s too soon so say when a statewide stay-at-home order can be safely lifted.

State officials from both parties have presented a largely unified front in facing the crisis. But a state representative issued a statement Monday saying the order “must end” April 30.

“On May 1, we must begin opening as much as possible,” Rep. Mark Wright, a Republican from Covington, said in a news release.

“At this point, those who are most vulnerable are aware of their risk factors and can make their own choices,” Wright said.

The overall number of Louisiana residents known to have been infected with the new coronavirus was 21,016 as of midday Monday, an increase of 421, as the number of people tested in the state surpassed 108,000.

The state said that, as of Monday, just over 59 % of COVID-19 deaths in Louisiana occurred among African Americans. The figure was down from the 70% figure released last week. Officials in Louisiana and elsewhere have expressed concerns over the disease’s disparate effects on blacks. Edwards last week announced a task force to look into the issue.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild symptoms like fever and a cough that resolve in two to three weeks. But for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, more severe symptoms can occur, including pneumonia, that can lead to death.

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