Gov. John Bel Edwards announced March 27 that confirmed COVID-19 cases in Louisiana increased by 441 cases and 36 more deaths, but LSU's confirmed cases remain at four.
Although LSU students have been out of class for two weeks, the number of cases in Baton Rouge is 124.
"The amount of students that attend LSU and the close proximity we were in everyday," said second-year student majoring in biology Mary Brent Bankston. "It’s hard to believe that a case did not develop sooner than this past week."
The first student that tested positive for COVID-19 is a graduate student and disclosed the positive results to the head of the department he or she worked for. The second student is an LSU Law School student who tested positive at the LSU Student Health Center, according to Director of Media Relations, Ernie Ballard. LSU reported a third student who tested positive Thursday afternoon who is a part of the Greek community on campus and a fourth case is a part of LSU's staff. However, students are not required to communicate their results with LSU.
"There is no mandate requiring a student to disclose a positive test to the university," said Ballard. "People also have HIPPA rights so their medical records and information are protected."
Some students, including Bankston, are concerned that, due to privacy protection rights, out of the 2,746 confirmed cases, some could be LSU students who are not disclosing their results.
"It makes me upset to think that some people would hide being infected because it affects literally every person they came in contact with and even more people beyond that," said Bankston.
When a positive case is communicated with the university, LSU works to contact students or faculty who the student could have come into contact with. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not consider sharing a classroom or office-space with an infected individual to be alarming.
The Louisiana Department of Health is tracking the number of confirmed cases and have access to specific patient information. Still, the department is only releasing numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases, deaths, parishes with cases, hospitalized patients and state and commercial tests at this time.
While the number of testing kits continue to rise, there are still concerns about the lack of testing available, leading many students to wonder if classmates have not been able to get tested yet.
"The LSU population is made up mainly of young and healthy students who if infected with the virus, possibly would not have shown severe symptoms because they are less likely to develop complications," said Bankston. "This in turn would have meant lots of students are not able to get tested because there weren’t enough tests available."
According to the CDC, typical symptoms for the novel coronavirus include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Cases of the virus that are mild could be masked as the flu according to a study by Yale New Haven Health.
If you are experiencing these symptoms, Edwards and state officials urge you to contact your primary health care provider for further instructions and to stay home in the meantime.
For students who are not showing signs of COVID-19, Edwards enforces the stay-home mandate to decrease the spread of the virus and to "flatten the curve."
Louisiana is tied as the second state with the most significant number of COVID-19 cases per capita, with the highest growth rate in the world. Edwards projects that New Orleans will overwhelm health care capacity in the first week of April, and he predicts that other parishes such as Ascension, Caddo and Bossier will follow.
President Trump approved the Major Disaster Declaration for Louisiana Tuesday night. Edwards stated that this would provide hospitals with additional resources, medical tools and equipment from the federal government.
"This declaration brings Louisiana into the national conversation and ensure sthat we are not being left out of that conversation when talking about allocating resources to hard hit areas," said Edwards.
Plans for increasing ventilator supplies and utilizing convention centers in New Orleans for additional medical capacity are in discussion, depending on future data results.
“It is really up to us. It is going to be faster, and it is going to be better if we will all engage in these mitigation measures and slow the spread and not overwhelm our medical capacity," said Edwards in an effort to urge citizens to comply with the mitigation measures.