Local health officials reported the first coronavirus death in Calcasieu Parish Monday and encouraged residents to stay home, if possible.
"This is real, and real lives are at stake when we don't stay home," said Dr. Lacey Cavanaugh, Region 5 Office of Public Health director. "We know that this virus is serious."
The state Department of Health said there are four confirmed cases in Calcasieu Parish and one in Beauregard Parish. Allen Parish reported its first two cases on Monday.
Statewide, there were 1,172 reported cases and 34 deaths.
No other information on the death in Calcasieu was released. However, there will be an active process to notify those who came in contact with that person, Cavanaugh said.
Cavanaugh spoke of the delays from the time a person gets tested for coronavirus, when the results arrive and once the physician receives the results. Because the Office of Public Health website is updated once daily, a known positive case may take "a day or two" before it shows up on the map, she said.
"We know that there probably are more cases out there," she said.
News of a coronavirus-related death in Calcasieu was "not all that unexpected," Cavanaugh said. She added the number of cases shouldn't change the measures residents should take to protect themselves and others. Young and healthy people aren't immune from the virus, Cavanaugh said.
"It can cause severe symptoms and can cause hospitalization and death, even in young, healthy people," she said.
Those defined as being in "close contact" with someone who tested positive for coronavirus should self-isolate for 14 days. Those who had symptoms similar to coronavirus but were unable to be tested should be symptom free for at least three days to not be considered infectious. She said that also includes a seven-day window since a person began experiencing symptoms.
Cavanaugh advised residents to focus on activities that reduce stress.
"This is a time when rental health and taking care of ourselves is also extremely important," she said.
Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter said he and other local officials fully support Gov. John Bel Edwards' stay-at-home order that took effect Monday afternoon.
"Stay calm, stay safe and stay home," he said.
Hunter said essential city services continue to operate on a curtailed basis. Water, sewer service and garbage collection are still running.
The city's transit system continues to run, with a local vendor sanitizing buses throughout the day. Hunter said steps are being taken to limit the number of riders on city buses and apologized in advance for any delays that may cause.
"We do not want to overload our buses right now," he said.
Residents with questions can call the Mayor's Action Line at 491-1346 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Officials mentioned that Abraham's Tent is closed. Denise Durel, United Way of Southwest Louisiana executive director, said the Salvation Army on Legion Street is actively feeding meals to the needy. She said they are looking for volunteers to help with the feeding. For more, visit unitedwayswla.org.
Dick Gremillion, Calcasieu Office of Emergency Preparedness director, said there are no plans to repurpose the Burton Coliseum Complex or the Lake Charles Civic Center to handle any overflow of hospital beds. He said Chicot State Park is the isolation site for the Office of Public Health Regions 4, 5 and 6.
Gremillion said crews are practicing a drive-thru plan for coronavirus testing. No information is available on when that would open.
State Sen. Ronnie Johns, R-Sulphur, said the Louisiana Department of Revenue decided on Monday to extend the state tax filing deadline from May 15 to July 15.
Non-emergency questions can be answered by calling the 211 hotline.
Parish Administrator Bryan Beam said a briefing is not scheduled today.