LDH reports first COVID-19 death in WBR in nearly two months

Local News

Louisiana Department of Health

PORT ALLEN, La. (The West Side Journal) – The Louisiana Department of Health has reported the first coronavirus death in West Baton Rouge in nearly two months on Monday. LDH is currently reporting the death as a “probable death” bringing the parish’s total deaths to 43.

The West Baton Rouge Coroner’s Office confirmed one person died as a result of COVID-19 on Saturday, Nov. 21.

LDH has not reported a COVID-19 death in West Baton Rouge since Oct. 2. On Monday, LDH reported 1,262 total cases – 1,171 of which are confirmed with the remaining 91 listed as probable. More than 12,000 coronavirus tests have been administered in West Baton Rouge Parish.

Wednesday, Nov. 18, the Parish Government announced the closure of bars in the parish in accordance with the Phase 3 guidelines issued by Gov. John Bel Edwards and the Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control.

Under the Phase Three guidelines, bars must be closed for on-premises consumption of alcohol if a parish’s positivity rate remains above 10% for two consecutive weeks.

The percent positivity rate jumped from 5.5% the week of Oct. 22 – 28 to 13.1% the week of Oct. 29 – Nov. 4., then decreased slightly to a 10.1% positivity rate from Nov. 5 – 11 according to LDH. Neighboring Pointe Coupee showed percentages of 6.2% and 7% for the same period, while Iberville’s percentages increased from 8.3% for Oct. 29-Nov. 4 to 11.5% for Nov. 5-11.

Bars may not reopen for onsite consumption unless and until the percent positivity decreases to 5% or less for two consecutive weeks.

Statewide surge could mean new restrictions, Gov. Edwards warns

A surge in the statewide coronavirus case total and number of hospitalizations has triggered concern that new restrictions could go into effect across Louisiana, but Gov. John Bel Edwards said public compliance to the current orders will play a big part in the decision. 

The extent of new restrictions will hinge upon how much compliance the public shows in mitigation efforts for COVID-19, for which the statewide death toll exceeded the 6,000-mark during the weekend. 

On Monday, 971 cases were reported, along with 24 deaths across the state. Perhaps the most alarming number comes in the tally of hospitalizations, which has exceeded the 1,000 mark for the first time since spring.

Edwards said he does not intend to issue a “Stay at Home” order, but did not elaborate on what additional measures could take effect. 

Large congregant groups for Halloween likely contributed to the spike, along with confusion among residents after Speaker of the House Clay Schexnayder and Senate President Page Cortez worked with Attorney General Jeff Landry on a lawsuit that challenged the governor’s powers to issue executive orders during a public emergency. The petition included the signature of 65 Republican House members.

Judge William Morvant of the 19th Judicial District Court threw out the case on Nov. 12. 

Mitigation measures including wearing a mask and social distancing work, but Louisiana’s numbers clearly show that there needs to be more compliance, Edwards said. The latest numbers show that nearly 221,000 Louisianans have been diagnosed with COVID and sadly, it has claimed the lives of more than 6,000 state citizens. 

“Healthcare workers in hospitals across Louisiana are extremely worried about their staffing and capacity levels not being able to keep up with the growing number of citizens being diagnosed with COVID-19 and being hospitalized. They need us all to do our part to slow the spread,” said Gov. Edwards. “This third surge we are experiencing is worse than the others, and it is so concerning that the Centers for Disease Control has asked that all holiday travel plans be canceled. 

“This year’s holiday celebrations should not look like those from last year,” he said. “The risk is too great. I know that we want to be together for the holidays, but we need to protect each other and make the sacrifices now so that we can come together when it is much safer.”

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The West Side Journal, located in Port Allen, Louisiana serves as the official journal of West Baton Rouge Parish. The newspaper’s roots run deep in the West Baton Rouge community, as the earliest dates of publication reach back to the mid-1800s.

The current editor is Breanna Smith, an alumna of Louisiana State University's Manship School of Mass Communication and native of Baton Rouge. Contributing writers to the Journal are members of the West Side community.

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