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Louisiana Passes Grim Milestone: 4,000 Killed By COVID-19


More than 4,000 people have died from COVID-19 in Louisiana, six months into the still-raging coronavirus pandemic.

The Louisiana Department of Health reported 50 more deaths on Thursday, bringing the state past the grim milestone to a total of 4,028 people killed by the virus — that we know of — since the first reported death on March 14. Another 118 people are presumed to have died from COVID-19, but lack a positive test result.

Since the pandemic’s outbreak, public health leaders have been stressing that COVID-19 is particularly deadly. For comparison, 785 people were killed by the flu in Louisiana in the entirety of 2017, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Researchers estimate official COVID-19 death tolls in the U.S. are a “substantial undercount,” based on analysis of the number of excess deaths during the course of the pandemic.

State health officials had warned that deaths would continue to rise, despite new measures requiring face masks in public and limiting bar service enacted by the Gov. John Bel Edwards on July 13. Deaths are considered a lagging measure of the virus’s spread because it can take six to 15 days from the onset of illness for someone to die.

Edwards and the state’s top public health official, Dr. Alex Billioux, expressed cautious optimism this week that the restrictions are beginning to show results. Hospitalizations have plateaued in recent days across the state. COVID-19 cases are decreasing and so is the percentage of new tests that are positive — a key metric for determining the prevalence of the virus.

The state is seeing “modest but sustained” progress, the governor said during a press conference Thursday.

Rosemary Westwood is the public and reproductive health reporter for WWNO/WRKF. She was previously a freelance writer specializing in gender and reproductive rights, a radio producer, columnist, magazine writer and podcast host.

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