Lacey Cavanaugh COVID-19 briefing

Dr. Lacey Cavanaugh speaks at an OEP meeting in Lake Charles, La., earlier this week. (Rick Hickman/Lake Charles American Press)

Calcasieu Parish has its first confirmed case of coronavirus, Dr. Lacey Cavanaugh announced at a Thursday briefing.

Cavanaugh, who is Region 5 Office of Public Health director, said the person has been contacted and is isolated. Where the person is receiving care or demographic information was not disclosed.

“Now, more than ever, it is extremely important to continue socially distancing ... to make sure that we are washing hands and that people are actually taking this virus seriously,” she said.

As of Thursday afternoon, the state Health Department reported 347 cases of coronavirus, or COVID-19, in Louisiana and eight deaths. Cavanaugh said those numbers are expected to rise as testing capabilities increase. 

Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter said news of the first confirmed coronavirus case in Calcasieu was “sobering,” yet expected. He asked residents to stay calm, vigilant and follow advice from local, state and federal officials.

“By pulling together, we will get through this,” Hunter said.

Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso said reports of bringing in the National Guard or quarantine orders are incorrect.

“We are not getting any of that type of information,” he said. “Just relax, take a deep breath. I know that tensions are high ... but we really do have this manageable at this time.”

The National Guard would only come in to serve medical needs, Mancuso said.

“This is not like a storm, where we have dangerous things on the street and power outages,” he said. “So, we don’t need to call for a curfew or take measures in that direction.”

Jim Rock, Lake Area Industry Alliance executive director, said small capital projects with turnaround schedules may be postponed by site managers.

“I’m not talking about large expansion projects being shut down,” he said.

Denise Durel, United Way of Southwest Louisiana director, said 9,124 calls to the 211 non-emergency hotline were answered as of Thursday morning. Nearly 20,000 text messages were answered as well. Because of the high call volume, Durel urged patience.

“We’re going the best we can,” she said.

Starting today, daily briefings will take place at 2 p.m. at the Calcasieu Emergency Operations Center.

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