The Louisiana Department of Health (LDH), Office of Public Health Bureau of Community Preparedness (OPH BCP) is partnering with Louisiana 211 and the Louisiana Association of United Ways to ensure citizens can access the most current information available for COVID-19.  As members of the Governor’s COVID-19 Taskforce, LDH, OPH BCP and Louisiana 211 work in coordination with all state efforts for COVID-19.F

Louisiana citizens can dial 211, 24/7 to reach a live 211 specialist to discuss available help and information for COVID-19. Citizens can also text the keyword “LACOVID” to 898-211 to have instant access to the most current information available in our state.

 

 COVID-19 FAQs for Louisiana

As of Friday, May 22, 2020 at 4:43PM

ABOUT COVID-19

Q: What is coronavirus or COVID-19?

Coronavirus or COVID-19 is a contagious virus that makes people sick.

Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. 

People with these symptoms or combinations of symptoms may have COVID-19:

Or at least two of these symptoms:

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people and others that circulate among animals, including camels, cats and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can evolve and infect people and then spread between people.

Q: How does COVID-19 spread?:

Health experts are still learning the details about how this new coronavirus spreads. Other coronaviruses spread from an infected person to others through:

People can also become infected if they breathe in the droplets from the person who has COVID-19. This is why it’s important to stay at least 6 feet away from an infected person

Q: What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. 

People with these symptoms or combinations of symptoms may have COVID-19:

Or at least two of these symptoms:

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people and others that circulate among animals, including camels, cats and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can evolve and infect people and then spread between people.

Q: What is the incubation period for COVID-19?

The incubation period for COVID-19 is about 5 days. The range is between 4 and 7 days, although it is sometimes quicker and it sometimes may take up to 14 days.

Q: Is COVID-19 fatal?

While people have died from COVID-19 in the U.S. and abroad, the majority of people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 do recover.

The virus appears to only be severe if it reaches the lungs and remains untreated. Most healthy people can recover from COVID-19 at home.

Q: What steps should I take to protect myself and my family?

We all have a role in preventing the spread of COVID-19. The single most important thing we can all do is stay home when we are sick. Social distancing, washing hands vigorously and often, coughing into the elbow. If you are in public places where it is difficult to ensure a social distancing of at least 6 feet, the CDC recommends wearing a face cloth or mask.

Q: Are younger people at risk for a serious illness?

A CDC study published on March 17th shows that younger people can develop serious COVID-19 illness requiring hospitalization. This finding is different from the first reports from China.

 

Younger people are still much less likely to die from COVID-19 than older people.

Q:  What’s the process for COVID-19 lab result reporting to patients?

Laboratory results, both negative and positive, are reported to the healthcare provider who submitted the specimen for testing.

Q: Does getting routine childhood vaccines make children more susceptible to COVID-19?

Childhood vaccines are the best protection against illnesses. Studies have never found a connection between a vaccine for one disease increasing the likelihood for getting another illness.

TREATMENT

Q: Is there a vaccine or medicine to treat COVID-19?

No. There is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for this infection. People infected with COVID-19 receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms.

Q:  Is hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malaria drug, effective in treating COVID-19?

The answer is, we don’t know. There have been some anecdotal reports that the drug may be effective, and others reports that it is not. However, there have not been any tests done by the FDA to see two things:

 Until these tests – known as clinical trials – are completed, most doctors are not prescribing this possible treatment.

Q. Is it safe to take ibuprofen to treat symptoms of COVID-19?

CDC is currently not aware of scientific evidence establishing a link between NSAIDs (e.g., ibuprofen, naproxen) and worsening of COVID 19.

The World Health Organization, CDC and others continue to monitor the situation and will review new information as it becomes available. For those who wish to use treatment options other than NSAIDs, there are other over-the-counter and prescription medications approved for pain relief and fever reduction. Patients should speak to their healthcare provider for individualized management.

Q:  Should I go to the ER?  Or, when should I go to the ER?

You should go to the ER if you are seriously ill (difficulty breathing, confusion, dehydrated). If you are sick with typical cold or flu symptoms, call your primary care doctor.

Q:  What should I do if I am sick?

Call your doctor immediately if the following:

Q. Office of Public Health (OPH) recommends that you stay home and treat your symptoms as you would with the common cold if the following:

Q. What should I do if I am caring for someone who is sick?

If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19, are over the age of 60, or have an underlying medical condition like heart, lung, or kidney disease, and develop a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness, such as cough or difficulty breathing, call your healthcare provider immediately.

If you are young, otherwise healthy, and have not been in contact with someone who has COVID-19 or recently traveled to a country with a high rate of COVID-19, stay home and treat your symptoms as you would with a common cold.

Q:  What is the difference between quarantine and isolation?

Isolation and quarantine are both public health practices that are being utilized to limit the spread of COVID-19. While they are often used interchangeably, they have very different meanings.

Isolation is a strategy used to separate people who are sick with a contagious illness from those who are healthy. Isolation restricts the movement of people who are ill to help stop the spread of certain diseases. People in isolation may be cared for in their homes, in hospitals, or in designated healthcare facilities.
 
Quarantine is used to separate and restrict the movement of people who may have been exposed to a contagious illness, but do not have symptoms to see if they become sick. These individuals may or may not be contagious.

Q: When I can end self-isolation?

People with COVID-19 symptoms may end self-isolation when:

People with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 who have not had any symptoms may end self-isolation when at least 10 days have passed since the date of their first positive COVID-19 test and have had no subsequent illness.

People with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 who have symptoms may end self-isolation under the following conditions:

People with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 who have not had any symptoms may discontinue self-isolation when at least 7 days have passed since the date of their first positive COVID-19 diagnostic test and have had no subsequent illness.

Q:  What are the recommendations for a person who has been in close contacts with someone with the illness?

Q: Can masks be reused?

Throw out disposable face masks and gloves after using them. Do not reuse. Place all used disposable gloves, facemasks, and other contaminated items in a lined container before disposing of them with other household waste. Clean your hands  immediately after handling these items.

TESTING for COVID-19

Q. Should I be tested for the virus? Who should be tested?

Only people who are ill with a fever and respiratory symptoms (cough) should be tested.

Not everyone needs to be tested for COVID-19. Clinicians use their judgment to determine if a patient should be tested, including if the patient has signs and symptoms compatible with COVID-19. Another consideration is the occurrence of local community transmission of COVID-19 infections.

 

If you have mild symptoms and are worried that you might have COVID-19, call your doctor or local health department instead of going to a clinic or doctor's office without an appointment, to ensure you aren't potentially exposing others to the virus.

If you have severe breathing problems, seek medical attention or call 911 immediately.

LDH is publishing a daily list of testing sites at www.ldh.la.gov/coronavirus Click Guidance and Resources and see Community Testing Sites (updated Twice Daily.)

Q. Where can I go to get tested?

Tests sites are being set up at the local level. People wishing to be tested should seek a medical referral that requires confirmation of symptoms.  These symptoms typically include fever and one respiratory symptom such as coughing or shortness of breath.

LDH has updated and enhanced (by adding a mapping feature) its online list of testing sites at http://ldh.la.gov/COVID-19Testing. Click Guidance and Resources and see Community Testing Sites.

Q:  Earlier this year I was extremely ill. My doctor tested me for the coronavirus and the test result was negative. I recovered, but I believe I had the virus. How can I know if I had COVID-19?

According to the CDC, there are sometimes incorrect test results. In this case, it is known as a false negative result. A negative test result means that the virus that causes COVID-19 was not found in your sample, although it could have been present. Imprecise collection of the sample is one possibility why a test may be inaccurate. Other factors that can impact the accuracy of a COVID-19 test result include the chemical reagents used to perform the test, and each patient’s unique biology.

It is possible for a COVID-19 test to give a negative result in some people with the virus. This means that you could possibly have had COVID-19 even though the test was negative. For this reason, healthcare providers treat a person’s symptoms regardless of the test result.

An antibody test would indicate whether you had COVID-19 or not. We recommend that you talk to your healthcare provider about such a test and any other recommended next steps.

Q: I hear there is an app that will help me know if I need to be tested?

Yes, there is an app and a website that has been developed by the CDC and Apple. These tools guide people through a series of questions about their health and exposure to determine if they should seek care for COVID-19 symptoms.  The tool provides CDC recommendations on social distancing and self-isolating, how to closely monitor symptoms, recommendations on testing, and when to contact a medical provider. The free app can be downloaded from Apple's App Store or on Google Play or access the tool online at www.apple.com/covid19.

Q: What if I don’t have a doctor or have insurance?

If you do not have a doctor or if you do not have insurance, contact your nearest community health clinic.

 

You can search for a clinic near you at: www.lpca.net/main/for-patients/find-a-health-center. Please use the search tool to find a clinic near you using your zip code. (Do not call the LPCA office main line to locate a clinic. Call 211 if you need assistance.)

Q: Who can be tested for COVID-19?

The Louisiana Department of Health recommends COVID-19 testing for any patient with fever and respiratory symptoms.

 

Healthcare providers have been advised that testing is recommended for any patient with fever and respiratory symptoms.

Q: What do I do if I don’t have an established doctor or can’t get an appointment?

If you do not have a doctor or if you do not have insurance, contact your nearest community clinic.

This website lists all of these clinics/health centers: www.lpca.net/main/for-patients/find-a-health-center Please use the search tool to find a clinic near you using your zip code.  (Please do not call the LPCA office main line to locate a clinic.  

Call 211 if you need assistance.)

Q: I have symptoms. What should I do if I am not established with a doctor and no one I call appears to be taking new patients at this time?

If you do not yet have a primary care provider, you can call your local federally-qualified health center to make an appointment: You can find your nearest community health center using the search tool here: https://www.lpca.net/main/for-patients/find-a-health-center

Please use the search tool to find a clinic near you using your zip code.  (Please do not call the LPCA office main line to locate a clinic.  Call 211 if you need assistance.)

If no community health centers are performing COVID-19 testing in your area, you can call your local emergency department to request testing. Please remember to call first before visiting your health care providers for COVID-19 symptoms.

LDH is publishing a daily list of testing sites at www.ldh.la.gov/coronavirus . Click Guidance and Resources and see Community Testing Sites (updated Twice Daily.)

Q: I have symptoms and I do not have insurance or money to go to a doctor...  Where do I seek medical care?

Federally-qualified health centers provide primary care, oral health, and mental health services on a sliding scale basis. Several of these community health centers are performing testing for COVID-19. You can find your nearest community health center using the search tool here: https://www.lpca.net/main/for-patients/find-a-health-center

Please use the search tool to find a clinic near you using your zip code.  (Please do not call the LPCA office main line to locate a clinic.  Call 211 if you need assistance.)

Please remember to call first before visiting your health care providers for COVID-19 symptoms.

Q: How long should I stay home if I am experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 but do not qualify for testing?

If you are experiencing symptoms, you should call your healthcare provider for guidance. The same is true if you have no symptoms but are exposed to a known contact.

Q:  When you hear “presumptive positive,” what does presumptive mean?

As of March, 14, the CDC has noted that Louisiana’s lab tests have proven to be reliable and confirmation of positive lab results is no longer needed Results will now be considered positive instead of presumptive positive.

“Presumptive positive” means that a test conducted by the State Lab has come back positive. The “presumptive” becomes “confirmed” only after the State’s test is confirmed by the CDC.

Q:  Are positive results from antibody tests reported to the State and counted as new cases (as far as the numbers go on the public reporting site?

No. LDH is currently not including positive antibody tests into case counts. This is because the diagnostic tests are better defined and more reliable. At the appropriate time, LDH will incorporate antibody test results into our cases counts.

Q: If I need to get tested for COVID-19, how much will it cost?

The federal government has announced that all testing is free, including for the uninsured.

Q:  The federal government has announced that all testing is free. Does this include the uninsured?

In Louisiana, no commercial insurance company can charge a patient an out of pocket fee for COVID testing. Medicaid and Medicare cover all of the costs of COVID testing.  The federal government has made provisions for uninsured patients to receive free COVID testing; however, you should contact the testing site before you arrive to ensure they do not require a physician order for testing or that you are an existing patient of that healthcare facility's provider network.

Testing is free at all federally qualified health centers (community clinics). You can search for a clinic near you at: www.lpca.net/main/for-patients/find-a-health-center. Please use the search tool to find a clinic near you using your zip code. You must contact the clinic first to get information about their testing procedures and requirements.

Q: What should I do if I have come in contact with someone who has tested positive?

You should self-isolate and limit your contact with other people. And, you should contact your primary care physician for guidance. If you develop a fever and a cough, you should contact your doctor.

Q. Does pre-existing respiratory illness qualify you for asymptomatic testing?

No. Currently, there is no testing for people not experiencing symptoms.

Q: How do we explain the average citizen waiting 5-7 days or longer for test results while someone famous can get results in three days?

Tests run at commercial labs take longer to get back than tests run at the State Lab.  The State does not control the testing time for private labs.

Q: How long before I get the results of my test?

The medical provider who ordered your test will receive your results directly from the laboratory that processed it.  If you have not received your results within the timeframe the testing site told you to expect, usually between 3 and 7 days, you should contact the provider who ordered your test. If you do not have the contact information of the provider or cannot reach him or her, contact the site where you took the test for assistance.”

 Q: I have read that people are having trouble getting their test results. Is there anything I can do to make sure that I know how to get my results?

Yes. When getting tested, be sure to ask someone at the test site to tell you when to expect your results, and where to call – be sure to get a phone number – if you haven’t received your results within the timeframe you were given.

Q: How can I get my results if I was tested at the Mahalia Jackson, UNO Lakefront and the Alario Center in New Orleans?

If you were tested at the Mahalia Jackson Theater, UNO Lakefront Arena, Xavier University, First Grace Methodist Church, or another testing site in Orleans Parish operated by the New Orleans Health Department, please call 311 (from within Orleans Parish) for test results.

If you were tested at the Alario Center or the Ames Blvd Community Center in Jefferson Parish, please email Covidresults@jeffparish.net  with your name and a contact number, and a representative from the Parish will call you.

Q: My tests were done by a Quest Diagnostics lab. What’s the process getting my results from Quest?

Laboratory results for a Quest Diagnostics lab will be sent to you through the secure MyQuest online portal or app. Sign up at www.MyQuestCOVIDTest.com or download the app on the Apple App Store of Google Play.

 

If you were tested at the Alario Center in Westwego, Wal-Mart in LaPlace and Wal-Mart in Shreveport, you can use the Quest Diagnostics portal for your results.

Q:  My tests were done by LabCorp. What’s the process of getting my results?

Results for tests conducted by LabCorp can be accessed through their online portal at www.labcorp.com/results or their mobile app. Download the LabCorp Mobile App on the Apple App Store of Google Play.

 

LabCorp processed the tests conducted at UNO and at Armstrong Park.

Q:  How can I get tested for COVID-19 at the new sites at the Walmart in LaPlace and Walmart in Shreveport?

Testing sites at a Walmart in Shreveport and one a Walmart in LaPlace are using Quest Diagnostics as their lab partner. Tests are available to people who are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 and all health care providers and first responders.

 

The sites are open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., weather permitting. The testing site will require an appointment through Quest’s MyQuestTM online portal and app, www.MyQuestCOVIDTest.com, which will screen and schedule appointments for those individuals that meet medical eligibility for the testing sites.

 

If you have difficulty scheduling your appointment, please call Quest’s dedicated COVID-19 line at 866-448-7719, Monday through Friday, 7 AM to 7 PM

Walmart Locations:

Shreveport: 1125 Shreveport Barksdale Hwy, Shreveport, LA 71105

LaPlace: 1616 W Airline Hwy, LaPlace, LA 70068

Q: I have a disability and can’t leave my home. How do I get tested?

The Department of Health has an online link to testing sites at www.ldh.la.gov/coronavirus. Click on the testing site tab to find a nearby location.

 

If you have Medicaid, your managed care organization can arrange transportation to a test site. If you do not have Medicaid, check with your primary care provider for an order for a home health agency to come out and take the swab for testing.  

Q: Will the recently announced 5-minute quick test for COVID-19 be available in Louisiana?

The 15-minute test instrument is a faster test for detecting the virus. It is being manufactured now, but the demand will likely far outpace the supply. The State and provider laboratories will be working to assess this and other new testing methods and will obtain faster technology as they are able. Check with your healthcare provider and/or the testing site that you visit.

Q: Hasn’t a new at-home test been developed so people can see if they have ever been exposed to the coronavirus?

The Food and Drug Administration, FDA, has approved the first coronavirus test that lets people collect a sample at home. This test marks the first time the agency has cleared an at-home Covid-19 test that will allow for at-home sample collection.

Developed by LabCorp, the test will initially be made available to health care workers and first responders who might have been exposed to the virus. As of April 23, details about when the test will be available to the public have not been announced.

Q: I did not test positive for COVID-19 but I am interested in taking an antibody test to confirm if I have developed an immunity. Is this possible?

Check with your healthcare provider. If you can find a provider doing the antibody test, then yes, it might be possible to get such a test.

 Details: CDC has developed a laboratory blood test to assist with efforts to determine how much of the U.S. population has been infected with COVID-19. However, antibody test results should not be used as the sole basis to diagnose someone with an active the COVID-19 infection. It typically takes 1 to 3 weeks after someone becomes infected for their body to make antibodies; some people may take longer to develop antibodies. Depending on when someone was infected and the timing of the test, the test may not find antibodies in someone with an active infection.

Q: Upon recovery from COVID-19, am I immune?

At this time, there are still some unknowns. For other viruses, people have developed immunities after being exposed to the virus.

However, Since COVID-19 is a new coronavirus, we do not know if the antibodies that result from a COVID-19 illness will provide someone with immunity from a future infection. If antibodies do provide immunity, we don’t know what titer or amount of antibodies would be protective or the duration that protection would last. CDC scientists are conducting studies to better understand the level of antibodies needed for protection, the duration of that protection, and the factors associated with whether a person develops a protective antibody response.

SYMPTOMS

Q: What are the symptoms of COVID-19? 

Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. 

People with these symptoms or combinations of symptoms may have COVID-19:

Or at least two of these symptoms:

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people and others that circulate among animals, including camels, cats and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can evolve and infect people and then spread between people.

Q: How does COVID-19 compare to influenza in terms of symptoms, mortality rate, number of cases, etc.?

Based on what is known, COVID -19 is at least as severe, if not more serious than flu.   Much is unknown about COVID-19 about how easily it spreads, who most is at risk.

 

From preliminary studies, people who are most at-risk for a serious illness from COVID-19 are: People over age 60 who also have underlying medical conditions.

Q: Can you contract both the flu and COVID-19 at the same time?

It is possible to have both the coronavirus and the flu at the same time.

Q: Is vomiting a symptom of COVID-19?

A new study reports that some people who get the coronavirus will, in very rare instances, experience digestive symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea. However, the primary symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

Q: Is the loss of the ability to smell or pink eye symptoms of COVID-19?

The novel coronavirus and COVID-19 are new, and we are still learning about the virus . For these symptoms and others, always contact your primary care physician for guidance.

Q: What should I do if I have lost my sense of smell and taste?

For this and all other medical conditions, the Louisiana Department of Health recommends that you seek advice from your primary care physician.

PREVENTION

Q:  Do I need to wear a mask when I leave the house?

The CDC and the Louisiana Department of Health strongly urge everyone to wear masks when in public

Q. Is there a vaccine for COVID-19?

No. There is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for this infection. People infected with COVID-19 receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms.

Q: When is someone considered to have recovered?

A person is considered recovered when it has been:

Q: Is eating takeout or home-delivered food safe?

Yes. The USDA, CDC and FDA all say that there is no evidence that COVID-19 is transmitted through food, transmission from containers is unlikely. But, it’s a good idea to throw out the food containers to be sure, and wash your hands

 

Set the food containers on a clean countertop. Then, wash your hands. Next, get some containers of your own — dishes if you’re eating it now or Tupperware if you’re going to store it for a few days — and transfer the food with clean utensils.

Q: What if someone at my work, school, church has illness symptoms like fever or cough?

Contacts should monitor their health. They should call their healthcare provider right away if they develop symptoms suggestive of COVID-19. Testing is recommended, but will be based on availability.

 

Q: What if someone at my work, school, church has been exposed to someone with COVID-19?

Exposed persons should self-isolate at home. Contacts should monitor their health. They should call their healthcare provider right away if they develop symptoms suggestive of COVID-19. Testing is recommended, but will be based on availability.

Q: What if someone at my work, school, church has been diagnosed with COVID-19?

Exposed persons should self-isolate at home. Contacts should monitor their health. They should call their healthcare provider right away if they develop symptoms suggestive of COVID-19. Testing is recommended, but will be based on availability.

Q: Do I need to notify someone if someone I know at work, church, school has signs of illness, is suspected of having COVID-19, or has been diagnosed with COVID-19?

No, healthcare providers and laboratories have the responsibility to report to Public Health

Q: Will the State be contacting every COVID-19 suspected or confirmed case?

Not any longer.  As more and more people have illness and are being diagnosed, Public Health will only be following up on those individuals in high-risk disease settings.

Q. How can I help protect myself and/or my family?

The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus.

There are simple everyday precautions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses.

Actions to help protect you and your family include:

Q: What is the best way to use a cloth mask?

CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores, garden stores, pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.

 

Cloth masks should be routinely washed depending on the frequency of use. A washing machine should suffice in properly washing a cloth face covering.

 

To safely remove a used cloth face covering, people should be careful not to touch their eyes, nose, and mouth, and wash hands immediately after removing.

Q: When will schools reopen?

Gov. John Bel Edwards has signed a proclamation closing K-12 public schools in Louisiana until the end of the current school year to fight the spread of COVID-19.

For the most up-to-date information about schools and education-specific questions, the Department of Education has established a special email address: LDOECOVID19Support@la.gov

Q: What is social distancing and how does it work?

Social distancing is a public health practice that aims to prevent sick people from coming into close contact with healthy people in order to reduce opportunities for disease transmission.

Recommended distancing is 6 feet.

Social distancing slows the outbreak to reduce the chance of infection among high-risk populations and to reduce the burden on our health care system and workers.

If we do this right, we can reduce the number of people with disease and reduce the number of people needing hospitalization and ventilators at any one time.  

 Q:  What is social distancing (safe zone)?

Social distancing, also called “physical distancing,” means keeping space between yourself and other people outside of your home. To practice social or physical distancing:

Q. Is there special guidance for people who are deaf or blind?

Q: Are we most concerned about older, high risk people, not young, healthy folks?

While those who are older and those who have underlying chronic medical conditions – meaning lung disease, heart disease and diabetes – are at the greatest risk, everyone, including people who are young and healthy, can be exposed to and spread COVID-19 to others.

Q. Should I cancel my travel plans?

If you have a trip planned, check the CDC’s site for a risk assessment of your destination.

If you travel, take the same precautions you would while home to avoid getting sick or spreading germs including washing your hands thoroughly and often and avoiding contact with sick people.

Q: Is it OK to use laundry facilities?

Yes. Just be sure to take basic precautions including:

Q: Is standard laundry detergent enough to disinfect clothing and prevent spread of the virus?

Yes. You can launder items using the warmest appropriate water setting for the items and dry items completely. Dirty laundry from an ill person can be washed with other people’s items. Wear disposable gloves when handling dirty laundry from an ill person and then discard the gloves after each use.

Q: I see people in my neighborhood out running, riding bikes and walking their dogs. Is that OK?

Yes, that's OK. Just be sure to maintain distance from other people. The CDC recommends a distance of about 6 feet. Even in communities where residents are being asked to stay home and "shelter in place," it's still fine to go for a run, hike or do other outdoor activities, as long as proper social distancing is observed.

Q: Coronavirus is noted on Lysol bottles. Why is COVID-19 categorized as new if listed on old Lysol bottles? Should the public expect any new commercially available disinfectant products to address COVID-19?

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses, and they are not new.

There were six existing strains of coronavirus before 2019, some of which cause the common cold. The latest strain, however, is nCoV-2019 (COVID-19) which originated in 2019.

Lysol bottles are not referencing the latest COVID-19, but instead the coronaviruses that cause the common cold. There is no reason to believe, though, that Lysol is not effective for COVID-19, so please use it!

Q: What can people do if they know others who have been diagnosed presumptive positive and they are not taking COVID-19 seriously and possibly spreading it to people? How can they report them?

You should practice social distancing and avoid people who are or who may have a COVID-19 infection.

Q: How can someone report about crowds gathering / folks not obeying by the public gathering laws put out by the governor?

You don’t need to report others. Be sure to take your own precautions by washing your hands, covering your cough and limiting your exposure by avoiding crowds and gatherings of more than 50 people.

Q: If I work in an “essential” business that is still open, but I’ve possibly been exposed to someone with COVID-19, should I still go to work?

Yes. Some personnel that fill essential infrastructure roles within communities are permitted to continue work following potential exposure, provided they remain asymptomatic. Following an exposure, personnel should self-monitor taking their temperature before each work shift to ensure they remain fever-free, and assess their symptoms prior to their starting work.

Q: For a halfway house, what precautions should be taken for/by new residents?

New and current residents should follow the Governor’s stay at home order which directs people to avoid going out in public unless it is absolutely necessary, such as getting groceries, food and medications.

Residents are encouraged to go outside and to stay active during this time, as long as they practice social distancing (at least 6 feet of physical space from other people) when they are around their neighbors and practice good hygiene by washing hands often and well with soap and water.

If a new resident has symptoms, they should not interact with other residents for 14 days and until they are symptom-free. Create a place in the home where that person can be isolated from others.

Q:  What precautions should be taken to admit new residents to group homes?

Watch for symptoms. For confirmed infections, reported illnesses have ranged from infected people with little to no symptoms (similar to the common cold) to people being severely ill or dying. Symptoms can include fever, cough and shortness of breath/difficulty breathing. Symptoms may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure.

If a new resident has symptoms, they should not interact with other residents for 14 days and until they are symptom-free. Create a place in the home where that person can be isolated from others.

If a resident falls ill, make sure they contact their doctor immediately.

Q:  Should I wear gloves to protect myself from the coronavirus? Do they offer any added protection?

Although gloves do create a barrier between the virus and your hands, they are not recommended for general, everyday use. There are several reasons why gloves might make you less safe.

Wearing gloves might cause you to practice worse hand hygiene because you keep wearing the now-dirty gloves instead of washing your hands.

You are just as likely to touch your face with or without a glove.

Since most phones cannot be controlled with gloved fingers, you are likely to take the gloves off and on to use your phone. Doing this will then contaminate your hands when you remove the glove.

Q:  Why, then, are gloves used in healthcare settings?

Remember, gloves are a barrier between your hands and the virus. When healthcare workers use them, gloves are disposed of immediately after each use. Healthcare workers are taught how to remove gloves safely, dispose of them and wash their hands afterward.

The most important precaution taken by healthcare workers, and the practice we all should follow, is to practice good hand hygiene.

TRANSMISSION

Q. How does COVID-19 spread?

Health experts are still learning the details about how this new coronavirus spreads.

 

Other coronaviruses spread from an infected person to others through:

Q: Should the general public wear face masks?

As CDC studies the spread of the novel coronavirus, it is now known that a significant portion of people with coronavirus lack symptoms and can spread the virus to others.

In light of this new evidence, CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures - remaining at least six feet apart - are difficult to maintain - such as grocery stores and pharmacies - especially in areas where there is significant community transmission.

Q:  If a person tested positive for COVID-19 can they be re-infected?

There is evidence to suggest that some people have contracted the virus a second time. This means that all people – even those who have already had the illness – should remain vigilant and take the necessary precautions.

Q: Can pets get COVID-19?

The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is not considered a threat to dogs and cats, and pets do not play a role in transmission of the virus to people.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people and others that circulate among animals, including camels, cats and bats. It is rare for an animal to infect people and then spread between people such as with recent outbreaks of MERS and SARS.  

Q: Do mosquitoes carry CORVID-19/Can the virus be transmitted through mosquitoes?

No. COVID-19 is not transmitted by mosquitoes.

Q. How long can the virus stay on leather/cloth surfaces?

Studies suggest that coronavirus can survive on metal for up to five days on glass for four to five days, and plastic for up to nine days, according to a recent study by the Journal of Hospital Infection. The same studies show coronavirus can survive up to 24 hours on cardboard.

 

It is not clear yet, but the virus may have a shorter lifespan on fabrics than on hard surfaces.

Q: Is it safe to receive a package from an area where COVID-19 has been reported?

Yes. The likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low and the risk of catching the virus that causes COVID-19 from a package that has been moved, traveled, and exposed to different conditions and temperature is also low.

Q: How long can the virus live on food from restaurants?
The coronavirus can be spread in a public restaurant as it can be spread in any public space. If you’re about to eat, wash your hands. Wash your hands after using the restroom. If you’re concerned about the cleanliness of your table, ask the server to wipe it down for you.

Remember that COVID-19 is spread from person to person. If there is an infected person in that space then both person-to-person transmission can occur as well as transmission from a contaminated surface if someone touches it and then touches their face.

Q: Should I wipe down things purchased from stores? How long can the virus live on hard surfaces?

Studies suggest that coronavirus can survive on metal for up to five days on glass for four to five days, and plastic for up to nine days, according to a recent study by the Journal of Hospital Infection. The same studies show coronavirus can survive up to 24 hours on cardboard.

 

It is not clear yet, but the virus may have a shorter lifespan on fabrics than on hard surfaces.

Q: What are the best items to use to clean surfaces and protect from COVID-19?

COVID-19 does not require any unique cleaning chemicals to disinfect surfaces. Soap and water works, and you can use an alcohol-based wipe. Baby wipes may not be effective.

Q: Am I at risk if I go to a funeral or visitation service for someone who died of COVID-19?

There is currently no known risk associated with being in the same room at a funeral or visitation service with the body of someone who died of COVID-19.

 

The Louisiana Department of Health has posted additional guidance about funerals and the proper handling of decedents who have had COVID-19 at www.ldh.la.gov/coronavirus. Just click on Guidance & Resources.

HEALTH EFFECTS / COMPLICATIONS

Q. What are severe complications from this virus?

Severe complications include pneumonia in both lungs.

Q. Who is at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19?

Those who are most at risk are people over age 60 AND who have severe chronic medical conditions such as heart, lung, kidney disease or diabetes.

 

Other people who are not age 60, but who have these same medical conditions also face a higher risk than the general population.

Q. What about women who are pregnant?

There is limited data on the effect of COVID-19 on pregnant mothers and their infants. Overall, there does not appear to be an increased risk of severe disease for pregnant women. However, because pregnant women are immunocompromised, they should be considered in the at-risk population.

 

Social distancing should be practiced. This means visitors will need to be limited during labor and delivery. We are encouraging hospitals to prepare patients for this ahead of admission.

 

Q. What is the risk to children?

Although infections in children have been reported, there is no evidence that children are more susceptible to COVID-19 or at greater risk of a serious illness. More information is being gathered to determine more about this outbreak.

Q: Are people diagnosed with HIV+ also at higher risk for contracting COVID-19?

People with compromised immune systems, including cancer patients and people with HIV/AIDS, are at a higher risk from the coronavirus.

Q. What precautions are nursing homes and assisted living facilities taking?

Nursing homes, assisted living centers and other similar healthcare facilities have the authority to restrict entry to people, including family members and friends of residents, during this health crisis.

 

People are advised to contact individual facilities for restrictions and recommendations that have been put in place at that location.

Q: How can a loved one be removed from a nursing home?

Talk to the administrator and Director of Nursing at the facility where your loved one lives.

Q: Does the state’s restricted visitors policy mean no visitors can enter a health care facility?

No. Health care facilities can allow visitors at their discretion, in consultation with families and responsible parties. This order also doesn’t apply to situations involving end-of-life care. However, no one who meets the definition of a “restricted person” can be allowed in a healthcare facility.

Workforce Related Questions

Q:  How do I apply for a contact tracing job?

Contact tracers must have graduated high school, feel comfortable having a telephone conversation with someone and also entering data. They must be compassionate, able to protect and honor patient privacy, and complete a very detailed training session. To apply, email ContactTracing@La.gov.

Q:  Do I need to wear a mask for work?

All employees of a business who have contact with the public must wear a mask.

Q:  When Louisiana begins to allow businesses to reopen, is there any guidance to help do so safely?

Yes, CDC has developed a comprehensive list of questions and answers, guidance and support for businesses as they begin to plan how to safely reopen on the website below:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/general-business-faq.html 

On the page is information about:

Q: How should employees communicate with other employees that they may have been exposed because of another employee without violating HIPPA?

Any person can self-report their own health status. However, people should refrain from discussing the health status of others. Medical professionals cannot discuss another person’s health status without being in violation of privacy laws.

 

Q: How long should an employer tell an employee to stay isolated if other employees in the workplace have COVID-19 symptoms?

There are different rules/laws for private and public employers. In state government, an employee may be placed on sick leave and be required to stay home if he/she has symptoms associated with COVID-19. In the private sector, the employee should follow the directive of their employer.

 

Q: What do I do if my employer demands I get tested for COVID-19 if I was sick?

There are different rules/laws for private and public employers. In state government, an employee may be placed on sick leave and be required to stay home if he/she is ill for any reason. In the private sector, the employee should follow the directive of their employer.

 

Q: Can my employer force me to keep working at the facility where there are more than 50 employees at one time, unless I have a doctor’s note?

Gov. Edwards issued a stay-at-home order on March 22. This order has been extended to May 15th. It directs people not to go to work unless that business provides essential services. Employers are to provide guidance to their employees as to how the order applies to their operations. For businesses that provide essential services, they should ensure that social distancing and hygiene guidance is being followed. Groups are limited to no more than 10 people. Employees should also follow the directives of their employer.

Q:  What is the guidance for restaurant employees?

Restaurants will not be allowed to have patrons eat on-site. They will be limited to drive-thru, pick-up and delivery orders only.

Restaurants must follow these directives:

Employees who are sick with a fever or respiratory symptoms should not go to work, nor work the drive-through window.

For all other employees:

This order has been extended until May 15 by Gov. John Bel Edwards.

Q: What precautions should businesses take that remain open in order to provide essential services?

 

Businesses such as these that remain open should follow these guidelines:

 Q: What is the guidance for medical employees that have been exposed to COVID-19?

 

If this employee is critical to the medical care, response to COVID-19, or assistance with daily living, they can continue to work but they need to wear a mask at work, and monitor their health with 2x daily temperature checks.  If they feel ill (fever >100.4 and/or respiratory symptoms), they need to immediately leave work and self-isolate. They need to call their healthcare provider to possibly be tested.

 

If this person is not part of the direct response to COVID-19, then they should go home, self-isolate, and monitor their symptoms, and call their healthcare provider to possibly be tested.

 

Q: What is the guidance for employees with suspect or confirmed COVID-19?

Please use the following updated symptom-based strategy to return to normal activity following a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19:

Continue isolation until:

Q: Does the restriction of gatherings of 10+ apply to “corporate” companies with open offices (no walls) with people working closer than 6 ft from one another?

People should try and stay 6 feet from each other to reduce spread.

Q: Can funeral services be held for someone who died of COVID-19?

A funeral or visitation service can be held for a person who has died of COVID-19. Funeral home workers should follow their routine infection prevention and control precautions when handling a decedent who died of COVID-19.

The Louisiana Department of Health has posted additional guidance about funerals and the proper handling of decedents who have had COVID-19 at www.ldh.la.gov/coronavirus. Just click on Guidance & Resources.

Q:  How do I file for an unemployment claim?

Visit www.louisianaworks.net/hire or call the Claim Center at 1- 866-783-5567

Q: Will unemployment benefits and/or a stimulus check as a result of COVID-19 public health emergency be used in determining Louisiana Medicaid Long Term Care eligibility or continued eligibility?

No.  Louisiana Medicaid Long Term Care or waiver recipients who received an additional $600 weekly unemployment benefits and or a stimulus check under the CARES Act are exempt from this income being counted as a resource for 12 months after they receive it.

Q: If I work in a business that has been designated as “essential” and I have possibly been exposed to someone with COVID-19, should I still go to work?

Some businesses have been designated as essential per the Governor’s order and remain open. These include healthcare, emergency response and other businesses that provide vital infrastructure roles within communities. Employees of these businesses should contact their employer for guidance.  However, an individual is permitted to continue work following potential exposure, provided they do not have symptoms. In these instances, someone who has been exposed should self-monitor by taking their temperature before each work shift to ensure they remain fever-free before starting work.

Q: What is the updated guidance to private early learning centers?

The Louisiana Dept. of Education provides COVID-19 FAQs for EArly Childhood Providers at this link: COVID-19 FAQ for Early Childhood Providers

Given the risk for transmission of the virus causing COVID-19 in group or congregate settings, centers must follow the below guidance in order to remain in operation:

Q: What is the process for out-of-state medical professionals to enlist to help Louisiana?

They may help by registering with volunteer organizations (Louisiana Volunteers in Action) and by applying for possible positions with local medical facilities in Louisiana that have staffing needs, such as hospitals and nursing homes.  You can register at http://covid-19lavolunteers.org/

 

Q: When is it necessary to acquire a Registered Nurse Temporary Disaster Permit?

For the COVID-19 response in Louisiana, the Governor has issued an Executive Order that temporarily allows RNs and APRNs to work in Louisiana for COVID-19 response for employment and for volunteer services without the disaster permit until April 30, 2020.  

 

The RN or APRN must have an active, unrestricted, unencumbered license to practice in any U.S. state, territory, or district; must not have any charges pending against his/her license; and must not be enrolled in an Alternate to Discipline Program. Otherwise, the RN must acquire the permit from the Louisiana State Board of Nursing.

 

To apply for this permit, complete this form from the Louisiana State Board of Nursing’s website: http://www.lsbn.state.la.us/Portals/1/Documents/Forms/DisasterPermitAffidavit.pdf

Q: Is it a responsibility of employers to report positive test results of employees to LDH?

No. Test results do not need to be reported to LDH by employers.

Q:  When can I return to work?

Individual businesses are now making decisions about when and how their workforce can return. Check with your employer for specific guidance about your job. The Louisiana Department of Health has developed guidance for employers and employees of essential businesses about safely returning to work. The guidance is on www.ldh.la.gov/coronavirus. Click on Guidance & Resources.

Q: I am an office worker but my company is near the top of a high-rise building. What about the risk of riding in elevators, or simply pushing the buttons?

It’s difficult to maintain a distance of 6 feet in an elevator with others. Limiting capacity is one possibility for employers and building managers, even if it means creating a queue of people waiting (6 feet apart) in the lobby. Elevator buttons, like doors, doorknobs, faucets, and water fountains, must be cleaned frequently.

Q:  The only way I can get to work is on public transportation and that doesn’t feel particularly safe to me right now. Can that be grounds for continuing to work at home?

Hard to say. Generally, the workplace is your employer’s responsibility; how you get there is yours. That being said, if you have worked from home without problems during the pandemic that could be an argument for continuing to do so, at least until we get a better idea of what public transportation will look like.

Q:  What does the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say about reopening workplaces?

The CDC has its own guidelines for employers: Stop handshaking; facilitate hand washing at the door and send emails to employees at regular intervals reminding them to wash their hands; remind employees to avoid touching their faces and to cover coughs and sneezes; disinfect surfaces like doorknobs, tables, desks, and handrails regularly.

Q:  Are there any other recommendations for employees and employers?

Use videoconferencing for meetings when possible; when not possible, hold meetings in open, well-ventilated spaces; consider adjusting or postponing large meetings or gatherings; and assess the risks of business travel. Employers should also ensure strict hygiene in cafeterias. Other recommendations include adding space between workers and staggering work schedules. Employees should not share phones, desks, offices, work tools, or equipment, when possible.

Q:  Where I work, an employee's spouse tested positive for COVID-19. Is there a quarantine period for that employee before they can return to work?

The Department of Health advises people who have been a close contact (within 6 feet for more than 10 minutes) of a known case, to self-quarantine at home for 14 days and monitor for symptoms.

If some is a contact of a contact, that person should monitor themselves for symptoms.

Q:  Are employees of essential businesses that are closed to the public, like crawfish farms, required to wear masks and protective gear for their employees during Phase 1 of the reopening?

Yes, if they work within 6 feet of other employees or if they will be seeing customers.

Q:  Are employers expected to provide that gear?

Either the employer or the employee can provide cloth face masks.

SERVICES FOR PEOPLE WITH DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES AND WHO ARE AGING

Q:  I have a disability and can’t leave my home. How do I get tested?

The Department of Health has an online link to testing sites at www.ldh.la.gov/coronavirus. Click on the testing site tab to find a nearby location.

 

If you have Medicaid, your managed care organization can arrange transportation to a test site. If you do not have Medicaid, check with your primary care provider for an order for a home health agency to come out and take the swab for testing.

 

You can also call 225-342-0095 Monday through Friday 8:00-4:30 to talk with someone directly, or leave a message outside business hours.

 

Q:  I receive disability services through the Office for Citizens with Developmental Disabilities (OCDD) and I have questions regarding changes to those services during the COVID-19 emergency. Who do I contact regarding this?

 

Email OCDD-HCBS@la.gov, and someone will respond to your question.

 

Call OCDD 225-342-0095 Monday through Friday 8:00-4:30 to talk with someone directly, or leave a message outside business hours.

 

Q:  I provide disability services through the Office for Citizens with Developmental Disabilities (OCDD), and I have questions regarding the changes in services during the COVID-19 emergency.  Who should I contact with these questions?

 

Email OCDD-HCBS@la.gov, and someone will respond to your question.

 

Call OCDD Monday through Friday 8:00 am - 4:30 pm to speak with someone, or leave a message outside business hours.

 

Q: I have questions about the services I receive through the state’s Office of Aging. Who do I call or contact for information?

People who have questions can call or email the Office of Aging and Adult Services at:

Phone: 1-866-758-5035

Email:: OAAS.Inquiries@la.gov

 Q:  Are direct service workers who work with people with disabilities considered essential and allowed to work during the stay at home order?

Yes, direct service workers are considered essential and are allowed to travel to and from the home of the person they serve. The Office for Citizens with Developmental Disabilities has put out guidance, as well as a letter authorizing travel during the COVID-19 emergency.

 

Q:  Are all Adult Day Cares/Home and Community Based centers required to follow the Governor’s order to remain closed?

All Adult Day Care (ADHC) centers were closed effective March 23, 2020 at 5 PM and they will remain closed through Phase 1 (at least through June 4, 2020).  This time period may be extended.  ADHC providers will be informed if they need to remain closed longer than this date.

Stay at Home order. OCDD and OAAS have extended the closures consistent with the Governor’s order.

 

Q:  I run a community home for people with developmental disabilities. We have a resident who has been hospitalized for COVID-19 and is now being sent home.  We do not have the facilities for the resident to have a private room or bathroom. How do we provide care during the resident’s 14 day quarantine?

The Louisiana Department of Health has issued guidance about the release of patients into nursing facilities, and has also issued guidance about safely supporting someone in quarantine. Go to LDH’s COVID-19 website and click “Provider Information,” and the Office for Citizens with Developmental Disabilities COVID-19 Information page for additional guidance.

 

Q: My agency provides in-home support to people with developmental disabilities. It is not possible to remain 6 feet away from clients while assisting them. A person that my agency provides support to has tested positive for COVID, and they have returned home. How can my staff and the people we support remain safe in this situation?

OCDD has issued guidance about how to stay safe during quarantine. This information has been placed on the website under COVID-19 Information. Additionally, LDH has a Provider Information page to give guidance to providers regarding safety measures to put in place while providing in-home support.

RESOURCES

Q: Where can people get more information about what the State of Louisiana is doing in response to the COVID-19 Outbreak?

The Governor’s office is constantly updating its website at gov.louisiana.gov, as is the Louisiana Department of Health at ldh.la.gov/Coronavirus. You can also call 211 for general information about COVID-19 and to get connected to help and resources.

 

For text message alerts: Louisiana has implemented a new text alert system that provides timely COVID-19 updates and other critical guidance directly from the governor’s office to Louisiana residents. Sign up by texting ‘LACOVID’ to 67283.

 

Through the Smart911 app or smart911.com, families can provide key context to first responders. This is a free service that allows individuals to provide critical information including pre-existing conditions and quarantine status, in advance, to first responders.

Q: Where can I get the most up-to-date information?

Go to the Department of Health’s website: www.ldh.la.gov/coronavirus

For information on the Shelter in Place order, visit www.gov.la.gov 

For information about schools, contact the Department of Education at this email address: LDOECOVID19Support@la.gov 

Pandemic info: The White House Task Force has established www.coronavirus.gov  as the centralized website for the federal government. The CDC continues to maintain www.cdc.gov/covid19 site.

Q: How to apply for Medicaid?

Local Medicaid offices are currently closed to the public.

If you think you qualify for Medicaid, you can apply for Medicaid online at https://sspweb.lameds.ldh.la.gov/selfservice/. 

 

  Applications can also be processed by phone or mail.

Q: Are there any state information and resources for small businesses impacted by COVID-19?

Yes. There are informational resources for business posted on this website: ldh.la.gov/coronavirus

On March 19th, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced that small businesses in all 64 Louisiana parishes will have access to federal Small Business Administration disaster aid in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.

To get started immediately, visit SBA.gov/Disaster. SBA offers a three-step process for disaster loans explained here.

Louisiana Economic Development also is offering COVID-19: Business Resources, an online guide to assistance available for impacted businesses. Look for updates to the guide at OpportunityLouisiana.com.

Q: Are counseling services available to the public?

Counseling services are now available at the Keeping Calm during Covid Phone Line.

Call 1-866-310-7977 | Available 24 hours a day / 7 days a week. All calls confidential.

Counselors provide information and service coordination with linkage to mental health and substance use counseling services.

 Q: Can I apply for SNAP food benefits for this emergency?

At this time, there is no option for emergency/disaster SNAP.

However, if you are not already a SNAP recipient and have a food need, you can apply for benefits online. There’s no need to visit a DCFS office. You can apply online or by mail/fax. For more information, text GETSNAP (no spaces) to 898-211, visit the DCFS website at www.dcfs.la.gov/getSNAP, email LAHelpU.DCFS@la.gov or call 1-888-LA-HELP-U (1-888-524-3578) Monday-Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Q: Can I still receive WIC benefits? Is WIC still open for enrollment?

Most WIC clinics are open and some are operating in drive-thru fashion. They are collecting information via phone then a staff member will come to your vehicle.  Be sure to have your ID, WIC EBT card, and any other needed documents.  

Call your clinic or 1-800-251-2229 if you have any questions.

Is WIC issuing new cards?  If WIC participants already have a card, they should keep that card. If someone is newly applying to WIC, they will be issued a card. WIC is not issuing disaster cards.

Q:  How do I file for an unemployment claim?

Visit www.louisianaworks.net/hire or call the Claim Center at 1- 866-783-5567

Q:  Do you encourage blood donations at this time?

Yes, click www.aabb.org to search for local blood donation clinics.

Q:  What is the LDH guidance for medical providers to request PPEs?

A link to guidance can be found at the top of the LDH Coronavirus webpage.

Here is the link for medical providers:

http://ldh.la.gov/assets/oph/Coronavirus/resources/providers/PPEforweb.pdf

Q: Is child care assistance available to families ?

Beginning March 23, families can access subsidized care for children age 12 and under through the Louisiana Department of Education’s Child Care Assistance Program, CCAP. The program assures affordable access to childcare at licensed childcare centers participating in the program.

The program is available to families with caregivers who are considered essential personnel in the COVID-19 response effort. Go to www.louisianabelieves.com to complete an application.

Q: How can businesses owners impacted by COVID-19 seek email or hotline support for business-related questions?

On March 27, Gov. Edwards and the Louisiana Economic Development announced the opening of an LED help desk that provides email and hotline support for Louisiana businesses impacted by COVID-19.

 

The email is LEDbiz@la.gov  

Toll-free hotline: 833-457-0531. Staffed 8 a.m. - 8 p.m. M-F.

 

For businesses seeking federal financial assistance, contact the U.S. Small Business Administration at SBA.gov/Disaster, or call 800- 659-2955. The TTY line is 800-877-8339.

Q: Can individuals report a store price gouging or scams?

The Louisiana Attorney General operates the Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-351-4889.

Q: Are there services that provide specialized assistance to those supporting young children during this stressful time?

Tulane’s Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation Program (TIKES) program is offering a free Tele Mental Health Consult for individuals caring for young children in Louisiana.

 

Childcare center directors, teachers, staff, and parents/guardians can access assistance to support young children through this stressful time, how to talk to young children about COVID-19, self-care, coping, supporting parents and other needs related to behavioral or social emotional concerns.

 

Access this free service online at https://tinyurl.com/TulaneTIKES .

Q: I have questions about these services that receive through the state’s Office of Aging. Who do I call or contact for information?

People who have questions can call or email the Office of Aging and Adult Services at:

Phone: 1-866-758-5035

Email:: OAAS.Inquiries@la.gov 

Q:  I receive disability services through the Office for Citizens with Developmental Disabilities (OCDD) and I have questions regarding changes to those services during the COVID-19 emergency. Who do I contact regarding this?

Email OCDD-HCBS@la.gov , and someone will respond to your question.

 

Call OCDD 225-342-0095 Monday through Friday 8:00-4:30 to talk with someone directly, or leave a message outside business hours.

 

Q:  I provide disability services through the Office for Citizens with Developmental Disabilities (OCDD), and I have questions regarding the changes in services during the COVID-19 emergency.  Who should I contact with these questions?

Email OCDD-HCBS@la.gov , and someone will respond to your question.

 

Call OCDD Monday through Friday 8:00 am - 4:30 pm to speak with someone, or leave a message outside business hours.

Q:  Can I access free COVID-19 Counseling Services?

Yes, you can access a free crisis text line for confidential support, 24/7 by testing the word REACHOUT to 741741.

If you are feeling overwhelmed with stress, fear and anxiety about the uncertainty surrounding this public health emergency, you can access a special Keeping Calm through COVID Hotline at 1-866-310-7977. This connects you to trained, compassionate counselors who can offer support and who can direct you to mental health and substance abuse counseling services.  Trained counselors available 24/7. All calls are confidential.

RESTAURANTS

Q: Have restaurants, casinos and other places been closed?

Gov. John Bel Edwards relaxed the Stay at Home order on May 11, announcing that some businesses – including restaurants, gyms, and hair salons- will be able to resume limited operations beginning Friday, May 15.

Restaurants are now allowed to let their patrons eat on-site, but must limit the number of customers allowed inside to no more than 25 percent.

Information about the Governor’s Stay At Home Order:

All information about the Governor’s Stay at Home Order, can be found on the Governor’s website www.gov.la.gov    

Q: What are current state-led mitigation measures?

Gov. John Bel Edwards has issued a statewide Stay at Home order that goes into effect at 5 p.m. Monday, March 23, to further fight the spread of COVID-19 in Louisiana, as the number of confirmed cases have topped 800 and spread to more than half of our parishes. The order has been extended until May 15.

Click here to read the Governor’s statewide Stay at Home order.  For more information and to find out if your business has limits with this order, please visit www.gov.la.gov 

The Governor previously ordered all K-12 public schools, casinos, bars, movie theatres, gyms and fitness centers closed and restricted restaurants to take-out, drive-through and delivery orders only. He has also moved the state’s April 4 elections and limited crowd size.

YOU CAN:

YOU SHOULD NOT:

Q:  What businesses are allowed to open?

Gov. John Bel Edwards relaxed the Stay at Home order on May 11, announcing that some businesses – including restaurants, gyms, and hair salons- will be able to resume limited operations beginning Friday, May 15.

Some businesses must remain closed, including bars that don’t serve food, tattoo and massage parlors, amusement parks, and other large event venues. They must remain closed though at least June 5.

Businesses that can reopen in May must follow safety precautions including: limiting the number of customers allowed inside to no more than 25 percent.

Business owners should review the updated Stay at Home order found at: https://gov.louisiana.gov/home/. This is the best way to determine if a business can open.

Q:  What businesses can reopen beginning May 15?

New types of businesses that may open beginning on May 15, with 25 percent occupancy limits, sanitation guidelines and spacing for physical distancing include:

Q:  What businesses must remain closed?

The following businesses remain closed:

Q: Can this business open?

The Governor has extended the Stay at Home order until May 15, which means some businesses are still directed to be closed, but many businesses can be open, with some restrictions in place to protect the public and their employees.

Business owners should review the updated Stay at Home order, as this is the best way to determine if they can open. This link below provides an overview of which businesses can be open: https://gov.louisiana.gov/can-this-business-open/ 

Additional guidance about changes being made in Phase 1 will be issued in the coming days and weeks.

REOPENING GUIDANCE

Q:  When Louisiana begins to allow businesses to reopen, is there any guidance to help do so safely?

Yes, the State Fire Marshall has developed the Open Safely website. On this site, you can find guidance for the following businesses/activities: Outdoor Sports, General Businesses, Fitness Center/Health ClubS, Libraries, Movie Theaters, Museums/Zoos/Aquariums, Places of Worship, Restaurants and Salons/Barber Shops.

Also, CDC has developed a comprehensive list of questions and answers, guidance and support for businesses as they begin to plan how to safely reopen. See this website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/general-business-faq.html 

On the page is information about:

Q:  Is there any guidance for youth camps and summer programs that are ready to reopen?

The CDC has developed a tool to assist directors or administrators in making (re)opening decisions regarding youth programs and camps during the COVID-19 pandemic. The tool, Youth Programs and Camps Decision Tool,  can be found on the CDC’s website at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare.

Q:  Is there help for other businesses and programs that are ready to reopen safely?

Yes, the CDC has developed tools to help entities that are ready to reopen understand the considerations and make the best decisions. The Louisiana Department of Health has added these decision-making tools to its Coronavirus COVID-19 Guidance & Resources website at: www.ldh.la.gov/coronavirus/  Just click on Guidance and Resources.

Q: What is the difference between “Stay at Home” and “social distancing”?

Stay at home is a stricter form of social distancing.

Stay at home means:

Q: What is a Stay at Home order?

A Stay at Home order is the Governor directing people to avoid going out in public unless it is absolutely necessary.

 

Q: It has been a month since stay at home orders were issued in Louisiana and throughout the country. Is there evidence these measures work?

Possibly. Researchers recently studied four U.S. metropolitan areas (Seattle, San Francisco, New York City and New Orleans). They found that policies that were put in place to ensure social distancing are making an impact on decreasing the overall community burden of disease and slowing the spread of infections.

Q: Why is this Stay at Home order necessary?

Right now, COVID-19 is spreading rapidly throughout our state and some of our communities and, without taking additional measures, Louisiana’s health care system will have more sick people than it can care for. The state is working to increase its health care capacity, but people also need to take measures to prevent the spread of this illness. Our medical community is working overtime to take care of people who are sick, but it needs help from the public to keep even more people from needing care.

 

Q: When is it okay for me to leave my home?

People can leave their homes to do things like buy groceries or food, pick up medicine or go to work if their job is essential. If you have to go out. To protect one another, everyone is asked to wear masks or other types of face coverings anytime we interact with those who are not part of our household. We also must continue to stay six feet away from those who are not part of our household.

Q: Are assisted living residents allowed to come and go off premises as they please?

The CDC has developed extensive guidance for nursing homes, assisted living and other long-term care facilities. These include recommendations about if and when a resident should leave the facility, limits on visitation, restricting volunteers and non-essential healthcare personnel, canceling all group activities and communal dining. To protect their residents, all long-term care facilities in Louisiana have implemented these recommendations.

 

Q: What should families do who share custody? If a full lock down were to happen, how does an exchange happen between caregivers?

A full lockdown is not in place. Families are free to allow their children to visit/stay with their caretakers. Simply follow social distancing and hygiene recommendations.

 Q:  Is traveling to meet child custody requirements allowed during the Stay at Home Order?

Yes. The exchange of custody meetings between parents, as long as they occur at the home of either parent OR at a location that’s not a public gathering place, falls is allowed. This exchange falls within the “Going to and from the home of a family member” exception in the Governor’s directive.

Q:  What should a parent do if one parent and the child are quarantined at home and the other parent is not?

The Governor’s Stay-at-Home Order has an exception for going to and from the home of a family member. Once the second parent has custody of the child, that parent should also follow the Stay-at-Home order.

Q:  I have shared/joint custody or access and visitation custody of a minor child.  Can our court-order visitation schedule be changed during the Governor’s Shelter in Place Order?

Louisiana Courts advise that the Shelter in Place Order does not affect a current Custody/Visitation Court Order.

 

Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, both parties are free to adopt a mutual agreement and modify the current order that is in place without having to set a court date to do so.

 

In the event that both parties are unable to agree, the court urges both parties to refer back to the requirements of the original court order.

 

If a Motion for Contempt is filed , the court will hear testimony from both parties and will make a decision on a case by case basis. Please be advised that a Motion for Contempt is not considered an “ Emergency Motion” and will be heard when court is reopened to the public.

 

Q:  I have shared/Joint custody or access and visitation with another parent that resides in Texas/Florida.  How do I handle the 14-day quarantine requirement recently announced by the State of Texas?

Louisiana courts advise that both parents do the best they can to follow the court order. The courts understand that COVID-19 has presented certain problems when it comes to intrastate Custody/Visitation Orders.  Both the states of Texas and Florida are under a 14-day quarantine.

The courts urge both parents to consider what is in the best interest of the minor child or children in this matter. Both parties are free to agree to modify the current order to fit the safety needs of the minor child or children to fit those needs.

If a Motion for Contempt is filed , the court will hear testimony from both parties and will make a decision on a case by case basis. Please be advised that a Motion for Contempt is not considered an “ Emergency Motion” and will be heard when court is reopened to the public.

 

Q:  I have shared/Joint custody or access and visitation with another parent in another state. Does it change visitation requirements?

Louisiana courts advise that both parents do the best they can to follow the court order. The courts understand that COVID-19 has presented certain problems when it comes to intrastate Custody/Visitation Orders.

The courts urge both parents to consider what is in the best interest of the minor child or children in this matter. Both parties are free to agree to modify the current order to fit the safety needs of the minor child or children to fit those needs.

If a Motion for Contempt is filed , the court will hear testimony from both parties and will make a decision based on a case by case basis. Please be advised that a Motion for Contempt is not considered an “ Emergency Motion” and will be heard when court is reopened to the public.

 Q:  What if I need to get tested for coronavirus or to go to the doctor?

People can leave their homes for medical treatment or to get testing, but they should call their health care provider or doctor before doing so for advice. Your doctor may be able to help you via telemedicine or decide if you need to be tested by asking you questions on the phone. Do not show up to a testing site without consulting a medical professional first, because you may need a doctor’s order to qualify for a test. Unless it is an emergency, do not go to a healthcare facility without calling first, because you may put yourself at risk of being exposed to COVID-19.

 

Q: What businesses and jobs are considered essential?

Health care workers, public safety employees, some government workers, staff of grocery stores and restaurants and employees of some business are generally considered essential workers. Businesses like manufacturers and utilities have to continue operations to support our communities.

In general, the state of Louisiana follows guidance from the federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) about what infrastructure and businesses are “critical” during the COVID-19 outbreak. For more detailed information from CISA, visit this site: https://www.cisa.gov/identifying-critical-infrastructure-during-covid-19

 

Q: Is there a protocol in place to report a business that isn't taking any effort to clean their store, despite having employees who tested positive for COVID-19?

People should avoid any place in which they have a concern. When you visit a business, take the necessary precautions: bring your own disinfecting wipes to the store, try "contactless" shopping by ordering and paying. And, stay home as much as possible.

 

The CDC offers guidance for cleaning and disinfection for businesses:  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/   Click on Resources for Business and Employers.

 

Q: Are there legal protections for workers whose employers are making them come to work?

People are also advised to follow the directives of their employer. For businesses that remain open, the recommendations are to make sure all social distancing and hygiene guidance is being followed.

Q: Can individuals report a store price gouging or scams?

The Louisiana Attorney General operates the Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-351-4889.

Q: What can I do if my landlord is telling me that I am being evicted because I can't pay my rent right now?

Your landlord must get a court order to evict you, and it is illegal for your landlord to lock you out, dispose of your belongings or cut off your utilities without going through the court eviction process.

 

Federal law prevents evictions until July 25, 2020, for certain rentals covered by the CARES Act. If you live in a multifamily building or single-family home that has a federally backed mortgage, late fees are prohibited.

 

Eviction courts have been suspended in Louisiana until at least April 30, 2020.

 

If you have concerns, contact the Louisiana Housing Corporation at 225-763-8700.

Q:  We are seeing reports of large public gatherings … parties, church services, etc. How is the Stay at Home Order being enforced? Who has this responsibility/authority?

Any concerns should be addressed to local law enforcement.

Q: How will this order be enforced?

The state is working with local law enforcement to support the order. There have been rumors about military control or martial law being declared. These rumors are false.

 

Q:  Who should I contact to report a violation of the stay at home order that happened in the past – an event where kids were exposed to a large group of people while in another person’s custody?

Local law enforcement is the only entity with authority to enforce the stay-at-home order. If someone is only exposed to others, and there is no evidence they were exposed to someone with symptoms, the best course of action is to monitor the kids for symptoms and continue to practice social distancing and good hygiene.

Q: Why is this order statewide? There are not a lot of cases confirmed in my area.

COVID-19 is rapidly spreading throughout the state and we know that some people do not show symptoms for 14 days, even if they are sick. Just because no one has tested positive in your community doesn’t mean that no one is sick. By enacting this Stay at Home order statewide, Gov. Edwards is working to slow the spread of COVID-19 and flatten the curve.

 

Q: Is the Governor closing Louisiana’s borders and declaring martial law?

No. This is a rumor and is not based in fact. Members of Louisiana’s National Guard are deployed in Louisiana to help support local testing sites, so you may see members of the military in your community. Martial law has not been declared. Louisiana’s borders are not closed.

Q: When is the Stay at Home order going to be lifted?

Gov. John Bel Edwards relaxed the Stay at Home order on May 11, announcing that some businesses – including restaurants, gyms, and hair salons- will be able to resume limited operations beginning Friday, May 15.

Business owners should review the updated Stay at Home order found at: https://gov.louisiana.gov/home. This is the best way to determine if a business can open.

Q: Where can people get more information about what the State of Louisiana is doing in response to the COVID-19 Outbreak?

The Governor’s office is constantly updating its website at gov.louisiana.gov, as is the Louisiana Department of Health at ldh.la.gov/Coronavirus. You can also call 211 for general information about COVID-19 and to get connected to help and resources

Q:  Can non-essential medical procedures resume?

In a Notice issued on April 20, the Louisiana Department provided updated information about healthcare services that make exceptions for three provider services Medical/ Surgical, Dental and Other Healthcare Services, although with some restrictions.

The Department allows providers to use their best medical judgment within the scope of their license to make the determination as to resuming medical/dental services. You should contact your provider for details about your specific condition.

Q: Are Louisiana’s State Parks open?

As Louisiana enters Phase One of the plan for reopening, 18 State Parks, all 18 State Historic Sites, and all 9 State Museum buildings will reopen starting Saturday, May 16. During this first phase of reopening, all welcome centers will remain closed; however, those with exterior doors to restrooms will have 24-hour restrooms available.

CONTRACT TRACING

Q:  What is contact tracing? Is this being done in Louisiana?

Contact tracing is a type of disease investigation. Trained interviewers talk to people who have been diagnosed with the virus and ask questions to determine who else they may have recently been in contact with. Then, they find those people who may have been exposed, and encourage them to quarantine themselves to prevent spreading the disease any further.

For more information, go to: http://ldh.la.gov/ContactTracing .

Q:  How do I apply for a contact tracing job?

Contact tracers must have graduated high school, feel comfortable having a telephone conversation with someone and also comfortable entering data. They must be compassionate, able to protect and honor patient privacy, and complete a very detailed training session. To apply, email ContactTracing@La.gov.

Q:  How does contact tracing work?

A contact tracer is a public health worker who attempts to identify all people who were exposed to someone with COVID-19. This is how it works:

Q:  Who is considered to be a close contact?

A close contact is a person who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes starting from 48 hours before illness onset until the time the infected patient is isolated.

Q:  I received a call or message from a contact tracer. Why do they want to talk to me?

The Louisiana Department of Health has a team of contract tracers who call anyone who tested positive for COVID-19 and anyone who might have been in close contact with someone known to have tested positive. If someone you know or have been in close contact with has tested positive, the contact tracing team will call you to see how you are feeling, if you are having any symptoms, offer support for getting tested, and provide information on how to self-quarantine.

Q:  What is a COVID-19 hotspot?

A hotspot is an area of the state in which there is a high number ofCOVID-19 cases. These are determined by looking at the percent of positive tests in a given area. Areas with more than 10% positive tests out of total tests are considered hot spots.

Q:  What’s the difference between isolation and quarantine?

Isolation separates sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick to prevent transmission to others. Quarantine separates and limits the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick, and prevent transmission to others.

Q:  How do I know if the contact tracer is from the Louisiana Department of Health and not a fraud or scammer trying to ask me personal questions?

The official Louisiana contact tracers will identify themselves as being from the Louisiana Department of Health. The caller ID on the phone should show “LA Health Dept.” They will never ask you about your finances or other personal information. They will never ask you to buy any gift cards, or ask your banking information or social security number. If someone asks you any of these questions, hang up right away and do not give this information.

Q:  My doctor has not contacted me about my test results but I got a call from someone wanting to know about my whereabouts. Do I have to talk to them before I receive my results?  Do I have to talk to them at all?

Sometimes the health department will get positive test results from a lab and call that person before their doctor gets a chance to call them with the results. The health department tries to call people as soon possible in order to share information about how to keep the illness from spreading to others. You can always ask the contact tracer to call you back after you’ve had a chance to call your doctor. You will not be required to speak to the health department about your results. However, we strongly encourage you to speak with the Louisiana Department of Health, because this is an important way to help keep yourself and others safe and to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Q:  Will the information I share with the contact tracer be kept confidential?

Yes. The health department contacts people who test positive and their close contacts. The health department will not tell the contacts who tested positive or where they may have been when exposed, they will only share the date they were exposed. All information is kept private.

Q:  If I don’t get contacted by a contact tracer, is that a sign that I have NOT come in contact with anyone who tested positive for Covid-19?

Unfortunately, no. You may have come in contact with someone who has tested positive, but they did not realize they were in close contact with you or they forgot to tell the contact tracing team. You may also have come in contact with someone who had a COVID-19 infection, but did not get tested. If you believe you may have been exposed in some way, take reasonable precautions to self-quarantine and call your primary care provider.

COVID-19 in Louisiana

Q: Are there any confirmed cases in Louisiana?

Check the Louisiana Department of Health’s website for the most up-to-date information: www.ldh.la.gov/coronavirus   The website is updated twice daily, at 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. To date, most cases have been clustered in the New Orleans area.

Q:  How are the number of active COVID-19 cases determined?

Because of several factors and variables, including when a case is identified, when that person becomes symptom-free and because we only know of cases reported to the State, there is not a simple way to determine the number of active cases in a region or statewide at any given time. For these reasons, the Department of Health does not calculate an accurate number for active cases.

Q:  Are "Probable Deaths" included in the "Deaths Reported" total?

No. On the LDH coronavirus dashboard, the numbers listed for deaths are confirmed COVID-19 related deaths. The probable death number is not included and reported separately on the dashboard.

Q:  Does "Probable Deaths" represent the total number of deaths awaiting a lab positive result at any given time? Or, is each "Probable Deaths" report in addition to the last report?

The number of probable deaths can change on any day if a death is confirmed as COVID-19 with a positive test, or if a negative test result is received then the death would no longer be considered a probable death.

Q:  Have we hit our peak of the outbreak?

While we are starting to see some progress in slowing the spread of this illness it’s too soon to tell. It is hard to know if we have hit the peak until we see if the number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths are all going down.

 

If we do social distancing well, we won’t really see a clear peak. Our goal is to flatten the curve – slow the spread of this illness

  

Q: How can business access help with their COVID-19 business-related questions?

As of March 27,  Gov. John Bel Edwards and Secretary Don Pierson of Louisiana Economic Development announced the opening of an LED help desk that provides email and hotline support for Louisiana businesses impacted by COVID-19.

For COVID-19 business questions, LED may be reached at LEDbiz@la.gov or via the toll-free hotline, (833) 457-0531. The COVID-19 hotline is staffed from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday. Be aware that high call volumes might result in delays. Callers are encouraged to keep trying, leave a voice mail or contact LED via email.

For Louisiana businesses seeking federal financial assistance, they are encouraged first to contact the U.S. Small Business Administration at SBA.gov/Disaster to apply for COVID-19 disaster aid. The SBA Customer Service Center may be reached at (800) 659-2955, with an additional TTY line for the hearing-impaired at (800) 877-8339.

Q: How can I access assistance from the economic relief package?

As the State receives guidance, that information will be provided to the public from the Governor and other state officials. The current guidance … if you have lost your job because of the coronavirus outbreak, you can fill a claim online with the Louisiana Workforce Commission at www.laworks.net.

Q: Of the people who have tested positive so far in Louisiana, how many have needed hospitalization? 

The vast majority of patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 in Louisiana have been hospitalized. This is because, with our limited testing ability, we were only testing the most seriously ill people. Now that testing has expanded, both through the State and through commercial laboratories, we can begin determining the number of non-hospitalized people with COVID-19.

Q: When will the information about the number of patients who have recovered be released to the public?

To date, the Department of Health does not have access to data about patients who have recovered.

Q:  For the LDH coronavirus dashboard, Is the Department collecting data by race for people counted in Cases, Persons Tested, Deaths and Persons Under Investigation?

For routine lab tests, both for the State and by commercial laboratories, race is not a collected field. Therefore, the State will not have this data from routine lab testing.

 

However, for more serious cases (such as deaths), as the pandemic progresses and we have reliable numbers, the State is planning to release these statistics.

Q: The number of cases reported in cities and regions appears to change. Why?

The Louisiana Department of Health is working to ensure the accurate reporting of case counts. In some instances, cases that may have been assigned to a certain Parish are later changed based on new information and ongoing investigations by our epidemiologists.

Q:  If someone has multiple tests – some are positive and some negative – are all those tests being counted as positive cases or are they looking at the names for duplicates?  

To determine the number of actual people with a positive test, duplicate records are removed. In the situation described, it would be counted as one case but with multiple positive results.

Q: Are all healthcare facilities prohibited from providing medical and surgical procedures?

The order from the State Health Officer directs all licensed healthcare facilities in Louisiana to postpone all medical and surgical procedures. They were not ordered to close.

 

Instead, they are instructed to postpone non-essential treatment and procedures for 30 days. These instructions are in place until April 30, 2020.  Many offices will remain open to conduct these services and procedures. The decision as to which procedures are “essential” are up to the practitioner to decide.

Small group sessions (10 people or less) are allowed but social distancing practices and strict hygiene and cleaning requirements must be in place.  

Group members should check for signs and symptoms (fever, cough) before participating in the session, and those with fever or respiratory symptoms should not attend.

Q:  What is the LDH guidance for medical providers to request PPEs?

A link to guidance can be found at the top of the LDH Coronavirus webpage.

Here is the link for medical providers:

http://ldh.la.gov/assets/oph/Coronavirus/resources/providers/PPEforweb.pdf

Q: I am a medical provider and a member(s) of our staff has tested positive for COVID-19.  What is the proper procedure for notifying our patients?

Providers should notify patients in such a situation that they may have been exposed to the coronavirus. However, they should not identify the staff member. They should also describe the steps they are taking to ensure a safe facility such as practicing social distancing, taking temperature checks of staff and looking for respiratory symptoms. When a staff member has tested positive, that person self-isolates until he/she meets the guidelines for returning to work.

Q: Where can hospitals discharge COVID-19 patients who still need inpatient care?

The State of Louisiana is working to identify and open appropriate alternate care settings as quickly as possible. This weekend, such a facility will open at the Morial Convention Center in New Orleans. Termed a Medical Monitoring Station, this facility is for COVID-19 positive individuals transferred from hospitals who no longer need an acute care hospital bed, but are not well enough to be discharged to their homes or would be a danger to others in their household while still infectious.

Q: Is there a shortage of ventilators for hospitals?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has taken action to help increase the supply of ventilators, ventilator tubing connectors, and ventilator accessories, as well as filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs) due to shortages during COVID-19. The FDA issued an Emergency Use Authorization that allows for the emergency use in health care settings of certain ventilators, anesthesia gas machines modified for use as ventilators, and positive pressure breathing devices modified for use as ventilators (collectively referred to as “ventilators”), ventilator tubing connectors, and ventilator accessories that meet FDA criteria for safety and performance.

Q: I understand that some hospitals are not complying with orders to postpone elective procedures. Why?

People still have urgent medical needs that require an elective procedure and cannot be postponed. The decision whether a procedure can be postponed is at the discretion of the clinician.

 Q: Are places like Wal-Mart and grocery stores going to stay open?

No, grocery stores can remain open to the public. When shopping for groceries or anything else, limit contact with groups of people, stay at least 6 feet from others and use a sanitizing wipe on your cart. Wash your hands as soon as you get home and avoid touching your face.

Q: What about childcare centers and preschools?

Daycares and early learning centers run by private entities can remain open unless otherwise informed as the situation progresses. However, daycare programs should encourage children who can stay home to do so, children and staff should wash their hands frequently and they should limit child grouping.

Q: Can children still get school meals?

Yes, according to the Governor’s order. It requires schools to use appropriate social distancing measures, and continue to provide meals or other essential services with applicable staff. You should contact your child’s school for specific instructions.

Q: How can I pick up meals from my child's school? Does the child need to be present for the parent to pick up the meal(s)

The Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) has published a parish-by-parish list of school meal sites to let families know where, when and how free food can be accessed.

The list is available on the Dept. Of Education’s website: www.louisianabelieves.com 

For the most up-to-date information about schools and how school meal sites logistics work, please contact your child’s school district.

 Q: Can I apply for Disaster SNAP food benefits for this emergency?

At this time, there is no option for emergency/disaster SNAP.

However, if you are not already a SNAP recipient and have a food need, you can apply for benefits online. There’s no need to visit a DCFS office. You can apply online or by mail/fax. For more information, text GETSNAP (no spaces) to 898-211, visit the DCFS website at www.dcfs.la.gov/getSNAP, email LAHelpU.DCFS@la.gov or call 1-888-LA-HELP-U (1-888-524-3578) Monday-Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

 

Q: I’m quarantined and/or staying home as advised by officials. Do I have to go into an office to apply for SNAP?

No, you don’t have to visit a DCFS office to apply for SNAP.  You can apply online or by downloading a paper application and then mailing or faxing it to us. You can also request an application by contacting DCFS at LaHELPU.DCFS@la.gov or 1-888-LAHelpU (1-888-524-3578) toll free. For instructions on how to apply, visit www.dcfs.la.gov/getSNAP.  DCFS will continue to add information at www.dcfs.la.gov/getSNAP as the situation develops.  You can also text GETSNAP to 898211 for quick links and helpful info on SNAP.

 Q: With Texas’ new 14-day self-quarantine for anyone driving to Texas from Louisiana, how does this affect parents who have joint custody with one parent living in Texas and the other in Louisiana?

TEXAS Resources:

To speak with a parenting time specialist through Texas Access, please call 1-(866) 292-4636 Monday thru Friday from 1:00 pm until 5:00 pm. Calls will be answered in English and in Spanish.

TheTexas Supreme Court emergency ruling that came out on March 17, 2020, that provides guidance to parents with orders, and gives helpful information about access and visitation and/or possession schedule interruption related to Covid19.

This guidance can be found:

          https://www.txcourts.gov/media/1446106/209043.pdffbclid=IwAR3IW0yGc3IbcCSLiBuU1h9QqywhV0BnwpuJsRRz39p2M7bqJTBJud5trVc

Texas Legal Services Center (TLSC) has many answers and scenario queries to address Covid19. Parents can also receive free and reduced fee legal advice and help. For more info:  www.TexasLawHelp.org

Q. Officials have declared an emergency. Does that mean we’re going to get emergency benefits?

No emergency benefits have been authorized by the federal government at this time. If there are new options available, the Department of Children and Family Services will make announcements on their Facebook page and at www.DCFS.la.gov.  If you are not already a SNAP recipient, you can apply for SNAP online. More information can be found at www.dcfs.la.gov/getSNAP.

Q: What is the current COVID-19 situation in Louisiana?

According to the CDC, Louisiana and the entire country is experiencing a historic and unprecedented outbreak. The number of cases of COVID-19 being reported in the U.S. and Louisiana continues to increase quickly.

The Department of Health is providing guidance to doctors for testing and treatment of COVID-19, as well as guidance for home care of patients with coronavirus. This guidance is given to all health care providers via our Health Alert Network.

Additionally, the Louisiana Office of Public Health has activated its Emergency Operations Center and launched public health measures to respond. This is the same strategy being done at the national level under the guidance of the CDC, and in all other states and the District of Columbia.

Q: Do immigrants have access to testing regardless of identification?

The testing criteria for COVID-19 do not require showing official government identification. Everyone, including documented and undocumented immigrants, who is experiencing symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath, you should contact their primary care physician for guidance to see if they fit the clinical criteria for testing.

Q: What is the number of tests being for COVID-19 in Louisiana?  What percentage have been positive?

For the most up-to-date information about cases in Louisiana, please go to the COVID-19 website: www.ldh.la.gov/coronavirus

Q. What are the appropriate swab kits to use for COVID19 testing?

Medical providers can use any available Viral Transport Media (VTM) or Universal Transport Media (UTM) available to them, making sure to follow instructions on the testing materials and ensuring the vial is completely closed and sealed.

Q: How does the process for testing in Louisiana for COVID-19 work?

The Office of Public Health operates a laboratory in Baton Rouge that performs many types of tests for infectious diseases, such as for tuberculosis and measles. State lab workers are a team of highly trained professionals who are experienced at testing for many kinds of infectious diseases using a variety of different tests.

Q: Is the Louisiana Department of Health concerned about shipping channels such as the Port of New Orleans being affected by COVID-19?

Department officials met with the Coast Guard to discuss potential issues with the COVID-19 virus once it became clearer that the virus was spreading globally. We don’t think there will be potential for spreading the virus through shipping channels.

Q: Will the State identify COVID-19 patients?

No. Because of patient privacy laws, the Louisiana Department of Health cannot provide any information that might identify patients. This includes name, residence of patient or any other potentially identifying patient information.

Q: Do hospitals have policies in place to keep inpatients who have been tested for COVID-19 and whose tests are pending from having visitors in their rooms?

Hospitals and other healthcare facilities are restricting non-essential personnel from visiting people in their facilities. Patients under investigation (awaiting testing) should not have visitors, and healthcare personnel should be wearing appropriate personal protective equipment.

Q. What precautions are nursing homes and assisted living facilities taking?

On March 12, the Louisiana Department of Health started requiring all licensed healthcare facilities in the state to restrict visitors to those deemed essential, vital or necessary to the care and well-being of patients, clients and residents. This prohibition will be in place until April 30, 2020 unless otherwise extended by the Department.

 Nursing homes, assisted living centers and other similar healthcare facilities have the authority to restrict entry to people, including family members and friends of residents, during this health crisis.

Q:  For the purposes of Covid-19 related restrictions of movement, are Assisted Living facilities classified as Nursing Homes? Will all Assisted Living facility residents all be tested for Covid-19 soon?

Because they congregate in nature, and typically serve an older population, assisted living facilities (ALFs) are at high risk of COVID-19 spreading and affecting their residents. They must follow the same guideline as nursing facilities.  These facilities are also included in the State’s COVID-19 testing program. Although the testing may be done differently in each region of the state, the goal is to recommend and provide testing to all residents and staff at these facilities. Retesting will also be conducted as needed.

Q: Is the State testing patients who are in jail?

Patients who are suspected to have COVID-19 and who reside in a correctional facility or in a long term care facility are appropriate for testing by the State lab.

Q: Are quarantines being planned?

LDH does not expect to use its legal authority to quarantine for this particular infection.  LDH has extensive quarantine plans stemming from prior health events such as H1N1 and Ebola.

Q: Is everyone who dies being tested for COVID-19?

The only decedents who should be tested for COVID-19 by a coroner are those people who die with respiratory symptoms that are suggestive of a COVID-19, AND who did not have a link to someone with a known COVID-19. There is no need to test those who die of a “COVID-19-like” illness if they have been associated with another case (we’ll consider this a COVID-19 death). In addition, there is no need to test for COVID-19 in a person who did not die of a severe respiratory illness suggestive of COVID-19.

Q:  What determines whether or not a fatality is attributed to COVID-19?

When a death is counted as a COVID-19 death it means there has been a positive test result. It does not necessarily mean it is the cause of death. The cause of death could be a combination of COVID-19 and underlying conditions/complications.

Q:  I have heard that blood donations are needed. What will the blood be used for and how can I help?

Blood centers are seeking plasma donations from people who have had COVID-19 and are fully recovered. Those who have recovered have antibodies in their plasma that can attack the virus in other people.

Known as convalescent plasma, this type of blood donation is being evaluated as treatment for patients with serious or immediately life-threatening COVID-19 infections, or those who are at high risk of progression to severe or life-threatening disease.

If you are interested, contact your nearest blood center.

Q:  Is it safe to travel within the U.S.?

Because cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) have been reported in all states, depending on your unique circumstances, you may choose to delay or cancel your plans.

 

If you do decide to travel, be sure to take steps to help prevent getting and spreading COVID-19 and other respiratory diseases during travel.

 

Crowded travel settings, like airports, may increase chances of getting COVID-19, if there are other travelers with coronavirus infection.

Q:  There are a lot of mentions in the media about contact tracing.  What is it and will we do this in Louisiana?

Contact tracing is a type of disease investigation. Trained interviewers talk to people who have been diagnosed with the virus and ask questions to determine who else they may have recently been in contact with. Then, they find those people who may have been exposed, and encourage them to quarantine themselves to prevent spreading the disease any further.

In Louisiana, our public health team is exploring all options to add contact tracers to its staff.

BEHAVIORAL HEALTH PROVIDERS

Q: Can people be admitted into community-based residential care facilities?

Yes. Facilities such as residential substance use disorder treatment facilities, psychiatric residential treatment facilities [PRTFs] and therapeutic group homes should continue to provide these essential services to both existing and newly-admitted patients.

These facilities should provide services as long as such individuals can be managed safely in those settings, are not at risk for more severe medical outcomes or respiratory disease, and are not in need of more acute or higher levels of medical care.

Q: Can inpatient and residential facilities combine residents of several homes/units if staffing is not available?

Because of the high infection rate of COVID-19 and the increased vulnerability of people with disabilities to have serious responses due to complications, people should, as a rule, not be forced into settings that would increase social interaction beyond recommended levels. Instead, people should be moved into community-based settings, if possible.

Q: How should facilities monitor or restrict healthcare facility staff?

The same screening performed for visitors should be performed for facility staff.

Q: Should inpatient and residential facility community activities be limited for all people or should it be a person-centered decision?

Community activities should be limited in accordance with current CDC guidance and other state and federal requirements. Nationally, the CDC has advised individuals should practice social distancing, avoid gatherings of more than 10 individuals for high-risk populations and go into the community only for essential activities.

Q: When a resident has tested positive for COVID-19 and quarantine procedures are implemented, severe behaviors are likely to occur. How should this be addressed?

The health and safety of the residents, visitors and staff are the highest priority. For residents who have been found positive for COVID-19 virus, the resident’s treatment plan should include what specific procedures and steps should be taken for quarantine of the resident while also taking every step reasonable to protect the rights, safety and health of the infected residents as well as staff and other residents.

 Q: How should facilities screen visitors and outside healthcare service providers?

Facilities should actively screen and restrict visitation or healthcare service providers (e.g. contract therapist) by those who meet the following criteria:

Q: When should mental health and substance use disorder treatment facilities consider transferring a client/resident with suspected or confirmed infection with COVID-19 to a hospital?

Decisions regarding when a given resident with suspected or confirmed infection with COVID-19 should be transferred to a hospital must be made on a case-by-case basis, and must be informed by the resident’s medical status and acuity, as well as by the facility’s ability to care for, monitor and provide medically necessary services related to the resident’s medical and behavioral health needs.

Q: When should a facility accept from a hospital a resident who was diagnosed with COVID-19?

A facility can accept a resident diagnosed with COVID-19 and still operate under transmission- based precautions for COVID-19 as long as the facility can follow CDC guidance for Transmission-Based Precautions. If a facility cannot follow the guidance, it must wait until these precautions are discontinued.

Facilities should admit any individuals that they would normally admit to their facility who are not symptomatic, including individuals from hospitals where a case of COVID-19 was/is present if they are able to adhere to the infection prevention and control practices recommended by the CDC.

 

If possible, facilities should dedicate a wing or room/s for any residents coming or returning from the hospital. This can serve as a step-down unit where they remain for 14 days with no symptoms.

Federal Links and Info

Q:  Now that President Trump has established guidelines for businesses to reopen, when will Louisiana allow businesses to open again?

Gov. Edwards has said that Louisiana’s high rate of infections and deaths does not position the state to quickly allow businesses to reopen. As of mid-April, Louisiana does not meet thresholds the White House says states should meet before starting to reopen. The current stay-at-home order is in place at least until May 15th. As that date approaches, the situation will determine if the order expires or is extended.

Q: How can I get the most up-to-date information about the pandemic?

The White House Task Force has established www.coronavirus.gov  as the centralized website for the federal government. The CDC continues to maintain www.cdc.gov/covid19 site

Q: Has the IRS extended the filing deadline for federal taxes?

Yes. The Trump administration announced on March 20 that it is moving tax day from April 15 to July 15, giving Americans an extra three months to file their taxes amid the disruptions caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

Q:  How can businesses seek information on federal financial assistance designed for businesses?

For Louisiana businesses seeking federal financial assistance, they are encouraged first to contact the U.S. Small Business Administration at SBA.gov/Disaster to apply for COVID-19 disaster aid. The SBA Customer Service Center may be reached at (800) 659-2955, with an additional TTY line for the hearing-impaired at (800) 877-8339.

Q: How can I report possible fraud related to COVID-19 products?

The FDA has created an online way to report illegal selling of drugs (for humans and animals), medical devices, biological products, foods, dietary supplements or cosmetics.

https://www.fda.gov/safety/report-problem-fda/reporting-unlawful-sales-medical-products-internet

U.S. AND INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL

Q:  What is the risk of getting COVID-19 on a plane?

Because of how air circulates and is filtered on airplanes, most viruses and other germs do not spread easily. Although the risk of infection on an airplane is low, try to avoid contact with sick passengers, avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands, and wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

Q:  What should I do to keep from getting sick if I travel?

 Avoid contact with sick people.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. ◦It is especially important to clean hands after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose.

Make sure you are up to date with your routine vaccinations, including measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and the seasonal flu vaccine.

Q:  Is it safe to travel with friends or family?

It is still recommended that you stay home as much as possible and practice social distancing. Traveling to visit friends and family increases your chances of getting and spreading COVID-19. It is possible for someone to have COVID-19 and spread it to others, even if they have no symptoms. Getting infected may be especially dangerous if you or your loved ones are at higher risk for severe complications from COVID-19. People at higher risk for complications need to take extra precautions

Q:  What should I do if I have recently traveled?

At this time, travel restrictions and entry screening apply only to travelers arriving from some countries or regions with widespread ongoing transmission of COVID-19.  You may be screened when you arrive in the United States. After you arrive home, take the following steps to protect yourself and others:

Q. What if I feel sick within 14 days after returning to the U.S.?

Q: I am a recent traveler from Italy. Can I request a COVID-19 test from my provider for peace of mind? I am willing to pay any applicable cost.

COVID-19 testing is only currently available to sick people due to a limited number of tests available. You should monitor your health for 14-days following your return from travel. If you do become ill in the 14-days (especially with fever and cough), stay home and call your doctor. Your doctor can assist with the necessary steps to determine if testing would be appropriate for you. At this time, there is no test for well people who just want to know if they have been exposed.

Q: I am a recent traveler from Italy and experiencing flu like symptoms. I reported this to my healthcare provider at a recent visit and no testing was offered. What should I do next?

Healthcare providers work with the Office of Public Health to determine if a patient should be tested for COVID-19. It is possible that a flu test was done (and was positive), which would be responsible for the symptoms (and be the reason for no COVID-19 testing). If you continue to have concerns or if your symptoms worsen, please contact your healthcare provider.

Q: Will workers who travel out of state be allowed to come home if the state is quarantined?

The State of Louisiana has not been quarantined.

Q:  If we travel to the Bahamas in late June or July, will we have to quarantine in a hotel in New Orleans for the 14 days or at home? I am a coordinator for a Senior trip and was told that we had to stay in a hotel for two weeks at our cost.

CDC recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential international travel because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some health care systems are overwhelmed and there may be limited access to adequate medical care in affected areas. Many countries are implementing travel restrictions and mandatory quarantines, closing borders, and prohibiting non-citizens from entry with little advance notice.

Before making plans to travel to the Bahamas or anywhere else outside of the U.S. people should review CDC travel guidelines found here for the most up-to-date recommendations: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/map-and-travel-notices.html