A staffer in Gov. John Bel Edwards’ press office has tested positive for COVID-19 and was self-quarantined, the governor’s office said Thursday.
A dozen other staffers were self-quarantined as a precaution. The Democratic governor was not isolating because epidemiologists determined he wasn’t at risk of having caught the disease caused by the new coronavirus. He had not been within 6 feet of the person who tested positive for at least 15 minutes recently, Edwards’ office said.
The staff member later identified himself as the person who tested positive in a series of posts on Twitter. “Well friends, that staffer is me,” wrote Jayce Genco, later adding, that he is asymptomatic and quarantined in his apartment.
“We are monitoring our team and, should it become necessary, will be offering testing to our staff members and tracing their contacts to determine who needs to self-quarantine and who could be at risk,” Edwards said in a news release.
One of Edwards’ staff members, April Dunn, died from a coronavirus infection three months ago.
Louisiana continues to see a surge in coronavirus cases. The state health department’s daily report showed nearly 1,400 newly reported cases. And the number of people hospitalized with the disease, at 840, was the highest it’s been since late March, when the state was a national hot spot for the virus.
Deaths related to the disease rose to 3,147 in Thursday’s count; of 61,561 total positive cases in the state, more than 43,000 are presumed to have recovered.
The virus’s resurgence has led public officials of both parties, noting medical experts’ advice that the coronavirus can be spread by people who show no symptoms, to urge residents to wear masks in public to prevent transmitting the virus.
While Edwards has declined to issue a statewide order for mask-wearing, some officials this week ordered masking at the local level, including Baton Rouge’s Democratic mayor, the Republican president of Jefferson Parish and the Republican mayor of Kenner.
As the effort to fight the spread of the virus continues, the state labor department reported Thursday that nearly 22,000 Louisiana residents filed new claims for unemployment last week.
The number of initial claims was up from fewer than 20,000 a week earlier. For the comparable week last year, initial unemployment claims were about 2,206.
The total number receiving unemployment benefits rose above 306,000 last week. For the comparable week last year, that figure was below 18,000.