Louisiana COVID-19 hospitalizations continue downward trend

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Staff members of the University Medical Center enjoy a moment in the sun as they gather on the top level of the parking garage to watch the Blue Angels of the U.S. Navy fly in formation to honor those on the front line of the fight against the coronavirus in New Orleans, Wednesday, May 6, 2020. The flyover by F-18 fighter jets traveled over the New Orleans Metro area, Slidell, the North Shore and then back over New Orleans before departing over St. Bernard Parish. (Max Becherer/The Advocate via AP)

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The number of people hospitalized for COVID-19 in Louisiana continued to trend downward Wednesday, along with the number of patients requiring ventilators, according to figures released by the state health department.

There were 1,465 people in the hospital with the disease caused by the new coronavirus, down from more than 1,500 on Tuesday; 187 of those patients were on ventilators, down from 194.

The number of confirmed coronavirus infections increased by more than 400 to 30,399 as the increasing number of people tested statewide neared 195,000. More than 20,000 are presumed to have recovered.

The death toll related to the disease reached 2,094 Wednesday, an increase of 52.

Gov. John Bel Edwards lamented the increase in deaths but noted positive trends in the figures, such as the decrease in hospitalization rates and ventilator usage. However, he wasn’t ready to speculate on whether the state will be able to begin a phased reopening of businesses when his current emergency stay-at-home order expires May 15.

At a live-streamed news conference in Baton Rouge, Edwards said the state doesn’t yet have the data to show if all regions meet the criteria for reopening that the White House issued last month. Those include decreases in rates of hospitalizations and people reporting COVID-19 symptoms over a 14-day stretch. He said he expects to be able to make an announcement Monday.

Edwards was asked about legislative proposals that could affect his ability to deal with the emergency, including a resolution that was being debated Wednesday afternoon, amid pressure from some Republicans to reopen more of the state’s economy. “I don’t see any merit to the resolution,” Edwards said, noting support he received last week, during a White House visit, from President Donald Trump.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms. For others, the highly contagious virus can cause severe symptoms and be fatal.

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Follow AP coverage of the pandemic at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

By KEVIN McGILL Associated Press

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