Ochsner to offer free COVID-19 testing in New Orleans
NEW ORLEANS — A major Louisiana health care provider plans to offer free COVID-19 and antibody testing to at least 2,500 New Orleans-area residents to study the prevalence of the sometimes-deadly disease caused by the new coronavirus.
Ochsner Health announced the plan to test residents of New Orleans and neighboring Jefferson Parish in a news release Thursday. New Orleans and Jefferson together account for more than 13,000 of the more than 30,000 known cases in the state.
“This information will help inform community reopening plans and provide healthcare providers and leaders with more information about the novel virus,” the release said.
Louisiana’s confirmed coronavirus cases now total 30,652 with more than 20,000 recovered. The death toll went up by 41 on Thursday to 2,135. The statewide hospitalization total, however, dropped for the second day in a row, to 1,432. That number has trended downward since early April, when there were more than 2,100.
Ocshner’s release says its researchers hope to enroll at least 2,500 participants in the study. “Residents of all races, ethnicities, ages and neighborhoods are encouraged to sign up online so the study can accurately represent our community,” the statement said. Participants will be contacted if they are selected for the study.
The economic toll of fighting the spread of the virus continues to mount.
More than 310,000 people qualified for unemployment benefits in Louisiana as of last week, according to figures released Thursday by the state labor department. The figure is an increase of about 10,000 from the previous week. There were less than 14,000 for the comparable week last year, according to a department news release from Baton Rouge.
The number of people filing new claims for unemployment was 50,941 last week, well above the 2,009 who filed in the comparable week of 2019, reflecting the continuing effects of the outbreak on the economy.
Meanwhile, there was more evidence of the virus’s toll on the culture-based tourism economy. This year’s French Quarter Festival and Satchmo Summerfest festival — both in New Orleans — were officially canceled Thursday, with organizers saying they plan to return next year.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms. For others, the highly contagious virus can cause severe symptoms and be fatal.
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