BATON ROUGE, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – A bump in new cases reported by the Louisiana Department of Health on Friday was result of two new commercial labs now reporting COVID-19 test results, according to Gov. John Bel Edwards and Louisiana Office of Public Health Assistant Secretary Alex Billioux.
Friday’s updated dashboard shows a surge of 710 new coronavirus cases. It’s the first time the state has seen more than 700 cases since April 11.
Edwards said 381 of the 710 cases reported Friday came from the two commercial labs that are now processing COVID-19 tests and reporting them to the state, and he said many are from days and even weeks ago.
“More labs are coming online and sometimes it’s going to take a bit to get them into the flow fully of reporting every day that we want them to report,” said Edwards. “We’re doing everything we can to reach out to them and remind them what their obligations are to report to the Louisiana Department of Health and to the CDC, for that matter.”
“If you take away the 381 of those that came from those two labs, it puts us more in line with where we’ve been over the last number of days.”
Billioux added that some of the positive results reported Friday might even be old enough to be among people who are now counted as recovered by the state.
Billioux explained that, especially among smaller testing labs, it’s harder to get reporting up to speed – especially if they don’t have electronic means to report to the state and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on a regular basis.
Friday’s briefing came on the first day of the newly extended stay-at-home order formally issued Thursday that requires employees who interact with the public to wear masks or other facial coverings, among other things. He is also still encouraging the public to “mask up,” repeating his plea for social distancing to help further slow the spread of the virus so that it is more likely the state will be ready to begin with Phase 1 of reopening more businesses on May 15.
Certain parts of Louisiana remain a concern due to a spike in cases. Those “hot spot” regions are in the state’s metropolitan areas such as New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Shreveport.
The federal government has committed to assisting Louisiana with its plan to test 200,000 people monthly, starting in May.