UPDATE: President Trump declares LA. ‘coronavirus disaster’; death toll rises to 65

By ALAN SMASON

President Donald Trump declared Louisiana a “coronavirus disaster” on Wednesday, clearing the way for federal assistance to fight the rampant outbreak here. That was in response to a plea yesterday from Governor Jon Bel Edwards, who claimed that statistics show the state as having  the worst rate of infection in the world. The number of deaths attributed to confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, at 65. 

President Donald Trump. (Getty Images)

Edwards is expected to address reporters at his daily press conference in Baton Rouge today at 2:30 p.m.

The latest figures indicate 1,795 confirmed cases have been reported, marking Louisiana’s confirmed infection rate at 73.9%. That rate leads the state with the largest number of infections, New York, with a rate of 68.5%. According to Edwards, Louisiana’s rate leads the world including the percent of confirmed cases found in The Netherlands (64.1%), Poland (53.9%), Canada (46.4%) and Portugal (44.7%).

Nationally, more than 61,000 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed with almost 850 deaths reported. 

According to Dr. Jennifer Avegno, director of the City of New Orleans Health Department, 37 deaths from 827 confirmed cases of  COVID-19 have been recorded. Orleans Parish far and away leads all other parishes in the state with the most infections. Jefferson Parish has registered a distant second with 6 deaths from 293 confirmed cases. 

Edwards said that he expects the peak of the outbreak to occur around the first week of April, possibly April 1-3. By encouraging social distancing, he said he hopes that Louisiana will see the curve flatten and not overwhelm the available life-saving medical resources at area hospitals such as ventilators as well as to not deplete supplies such as surgical masks and gowns.

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