Monday, May 20, 2024

Louisiana: record-breaking 1-day positive coronavirus tests

by David Specht

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Louisiana reported a record one-day total of new coronavirus infections on Wednesday, while New Orleans canceled New Year’s fireworks and told its bars and breweries that state pandemic restrictions mean they must close indoor seating.

“Just as with other holidays this year, we’ve had to significantly adjust what New Year’s celebrations will look like in New Orleans,” Mayor LaToya Cantrell said in a news release. “That means no large parties, no riverfront fireworks, and no spectators at the fleur-de-lis drop. Please stay at home and ring in the New Year safely with the members of your immediate household.”

A tweet from the Louisiana Department of Health said 6,754 positive tests were reported since Tuesday. That includes 4,339 genetic tests, which are the most reliable and find active infections, and 2,540 which are described by the state as probable cases of COVID-19 and are reported as positive tests for antibodies to the virus.

“This is the highest number of daily cases reported to date in Louisiana that does not contain a backlog nor two days of reporting,” the message said.

The total is more than 50% above what the department gave as the previous record total — 4,339 on Dec. 9.

The previous daily record for positive genetic tests was 3,948 on December 1, Department of Health spokesman Sean Ellis said in an email.

The state said more than 7,000 people have died from COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, 1,717 are hospitalized and 210 of them are on ventilators.

Cantrell said bars, breweries and adult entertainment venues in New Orleans had to close their indoor seating at 11 p.m. Wednesday because positive genetic tests in Orleans Parish have made up more than 5% of the total of such tests for two straight weeks.

The businesses can keep outdoor seating for up to 50 socially distanced people and drive-thru, takeout and curbside pickup, the city said.

Ellis said only three parishes — Winn, East Feliciana and East Carroll — currently meet the state requirement for indoor seating at such businesses.

Cantrell said New Orleans will still host the televised Central Time Zone “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve,” but no in-person viewing will be allowed for its musical performances and the descent of a giant fleur de lis at the Jax Brewery shopping mall in the French Quarter. New Orleans police will keep vehicles and pedestrians out of the area and will keep crowds from forming, the mayor said.

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