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COVID-19 cluster forms at Veterans Home: Positive cases, fatalities spike in Louisiana

RESERVE – As of press time Friday, seven residents of the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Home in Reserve had died since a cluster of COVID-19 cases were discovered at the home.

The Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs confirmed Thursday evening that 18 residents of the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Home in Reserve have tested positive for COVID-19 either in the facility or at the hospital. Of those residents, six passed away. Officials recently received word that one additional resident received a positive COVID-19 test result after his or her death. This brings the number of residents who have passed away and have a known COVID-19 positive test result to seven.

Staff at the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Home made contact with the residents’ families on Thursday.

“We continue to follow the recommended CDC and Louisiana Office of Public Health protocols in caring for each of our veterans at all five of our state-run veteran homes,” a Department of Veterans Affairs spokesperson said.

The total number of COVID-19 related deaths in St. John the Baptist Parish was (14) as of press time. The Louisiana Department of Health reported (274) St. John Parish cases in its Friday noon update.

St. John still has the third-highest number of fatalities, behind Orleans and Jefferson parishes.

As of Friday at noon, St. Charles Parish had (180) reported cases and (eight) deaths, while St. James has (110) reported cases and (four) deaths.

Statewide on Friday, there were (9,150) confirmed cases of COVID-19 across (61) parishes. This marks an increase of (?) cases since Thursday’s report. More than 95 percent of these positive results are from tests being conducted in commercial labs.

There were (310) deaths, up (37) from Thursday. The first death in the state was reported on March 14. According to the Louisiana Department of Health, there are (1,639) COVID-19 patients in hospitals across the state. Of these patients, (507) were on ventilators.

“While extremely upsetting, this increase in COVID-19 cases appears to be less a sign of new exponential growth and more a sign of a logjam from commercial labs,” said Governor John Bel Edwards.

Testing is available at two Urgent Care locations in St. John Parish.

Parish President Jaclyn Hotard said COVID-19 tests are reserved for those who are showing symptoms including fever, shortness of breath and a cough.

She explained that positive test results are based on the presence of antibodies in the blood that develop when the body is fighting off infection. It could take days for these antibodies and outward symptoms to develop.

People with diabetes, kidney problems and compromised immune symptoms are most at risk of severe illness.

She reminded residents that daily increases in data reported are not an overnight total of new cases, but a reflection of tests from around one week ago being completed. The number of cases also does not reflect the many individuals who may have recovered from COVID-19 in the weeks since testing began.

“I have no doubt that we will get through this,” Hotard said. “We just have to stick together like we never have before.”