KEY POINTS

  • Louisiana has extended its stay-at-home order until April 30 to suppress the spread of COVID-19
  • The state has the fifth largest number of confirmed cases in the country
  • Gov. John Edwards urged Louisianans to help stop the spread of the novel coronavirus by staying home

Already the state with the fifth largest number of COVID-19 cases in the United States, Louisiana on Thursday reported the largest single-day spike in cases to date with 2,726 new ones.

The Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) revealed there are now 9,150 coronavirus cases in the state and 310 deaths, of which 37 were recorded Thursday. It said Thursday's jump in cases was the largest to hit the state.

Sixty-one out of the state's 64 parishes have confirmed cases. LDH said 1,639 people have been hospitalized because of the disease. Of this number, 507 are on ventilators.

Orleans Parish has the largest number of cases at 3,148. It also reported the largest number of deaths fro  the disease, at 125. Other COVID-19 hot spots in the state are Jefferson Parish (2,000+ cases), St. Tammany, Caddo, East Baton Rouge and St. John the Baptist Parish. The last  parish has the largest number of per capita deaths in the country based on population.

State officials said St. John the Baptist Parish is an epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak because of its high number of infections and deaths among a small population. Gov. John Edwards said the parish has the highest death rate from the virus per capita compared to all other counties in the United States.

Dr. Christy Montegut, the St. John coroner, said one-third of the deaths in the parish are connected to a nursing home for veterans in reserve. He said COVID-19 has killed at least 21 people parish-wide.

State officials were ready for the steep jump in numbers due to a significant rise in numbers on Tuesday and Wednesday.  Gov. Edwards had previously warned Louisiana that another significant case spike was coming during a interview with WWL Radio.

"We're going to have a huge spike (Thursday)," said Edwards during the interview.

He explained the spikes are because of labs clearing their backlogs of coronavirus tests. He pointed out the tests were just backed up.

"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 Edwards.

New Orleans police officers patrol an empty Bourbon Street after Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards ordered the closure of all bars and restaurants because of the coronavirus outbreak New Orleans police officers patrol an empty Bourbon Street after Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards ordered the closure of all bars and restaurants because of the coronavirus outbreak Photo: GETTY IMAGES / Chris Graythen

Edwards said most of the recently reported cases are for coronavirus patients that tested days ago and were already told they had COVID-19. He said most of them are likely not in the hospital and are self-isolating at home. He re-emphasized the important of social distancing, and again reminded Louisianans to stay at home.

As a precaution, Edwards said he will extend the state's stay-at-home order until April 30 to tamp down on the surge in cases and deaths.

"I have said time and again -- COVID-19 is a statewide problem and testing is a vital step toward understanding the scale of this problem," he said. "We believe COVID-19 is spreading in every parish in Louisiana."

The governor urged Louisianans to help stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.

"The situation remains concerning, but every Louisianan has the power to change the path we are on," noted Edwards. "Think of your neighbors, and please stay at home."