NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) -The Louisiana Department of Health says so far it has tested around 5 samples for Coronavirus and they were all negative.
While there have been no confirmed cases in Louisiana, the state says it’s likely there will be.
“Certainly a number of states have and we are preparing as if it’s a matter of when not if,” Joseph Kanter, M.D. with the Louisiana Department of Health said.
Currently, hospitals in Louisiana don’t have the capability to test for the virus. If it’s suspected that a patient might have it, the hospital will contact the state, the state will send a courier to pick up a sample and that sample will then be tested at a state lab in Baton Rouge. If there’s a presumptive positive, that sample will be sent to the CDC in Atlanta for confirmatory testing.
“But, we’re not going to wait for that, the second that we get our first presumptive positive, we’re going to act as if it’s 100% positive and start isolation and contact tracing and all the things that we would do as if it was confirmed,” Kanter said.
The Louisiana Department of Health says the public will be alerted immediately if there is presumptive positive. Even though there are no confirmed cases here, workplaces have already been affected as some employees have been asked to self-quarantine after traveling.
Matt Zingoni, Ph.D., is a professor of marketing and management at the University of New Orleans. He says workplaces will likely pay employees who are asked to stay home.
“There’s a lot more that this is going to affect than the people who are experiencing the self-quarantine, never mind the stress that they’re going through and things of that nature but, for every one person going through that, there’s probably 10 people watching the situation and thinking what would happen if this was me and that’s really a dangerous thing to neglect,” Zingoni said.
As people learn more about the virus and the impact it’s having, the state says there are ways to protect yourself.
“At the moment there is no community spread in Louisiana the way that there is in neighborhoods around Seattle for example. So, at the moment the precautions that people should take are very similar to what we should be taking during every flu season. Again, this virus behaves a lot like the flu, it behaves like a bad flu does. So, those precautions are personal hygiene, frequent hand washing, much more than you’re normally doing, cough etiquette, covering your mouth when you cough, avoiding touching your hands to your face, eyes, and mouth,” Kanter said.
The Louisiana Department of Health says the CDC provided the test kits to the state. We’re told the results of those tests are in within a matter of hours. If a sample is negative, it does not have to be sent to the CDC for additional testing.