Louisiana Coronavirus Update: State Reports 18,283 Cases and 702 Deaths, Cruise Ship Docks in New Orleans

Louisiana has become one of the country's hot spots as the novel coronavirus, which causes the respiratory disease COVID-19, continues to spread throughout the U.S.

According to its Department of Public Health, the state has at least 18,283 confirmed coronavirus cases and 702 people have died, with 2,014 hospitalized. In addition to the 4,971 COVID-19 tests completed by a state lab, 81,948 commercial tests have been reported to the state.

The increasing number of cases in Louisiana is a result of the mass testing the state has conducted, and Governor John Bel Edwards believes this is a step in the right direction in combating the virus.

"While extremely upsetting, this increase in COVID-19 cases appears to be less a sign of new exponential growth and more a sign of a logjam from commercial labs. I am pleased to see a ramp-up in testing across the state. We need this energy and commitment to continue," Edwards said during a Wednesday press conference.

He continued, "It's important to understand that what's happening in Louisiana with the increased testing is also happening around the country. That said, as more and more commercial labs come online, our different data systems must learn to talk to one another."

Meanwhile, a Carnival cruise ship, the Carnival Valor, has docked in New Orleans. The ship had a passenger who tested positive for COVID-19, and, according to Edwards, members of the ship's staff have tested positive as well.

Coronavirus in Louisiana
The field hospital setup for coronavirus patients at New Orleans' Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on April 4. Chris Graythen/Getty

When the ship docked Wednesday evening, no passengers were aboard, but a number of healthy crew members were allowed off after being medically cleared. The passengers disembarked from the ship on March 5 in New Orleans. The passenger's positive COVID-19 test result did not come until after all the passengers disembarked, but the cruise line decided to suspend all operations until April 9.

Since the suspension of operations, all Carnival cruise ships have remained docked at their home ports or at sea, with no crew members allowed to leave until permitted.

"Crew members who are debarking the vessel have been cleared to fly by our medical team, the airline transporting them, and by immigration authorities," the cruise line said in an email sent to Newsweek. "They will be taken from the Carnival Valor directly to the airport via chartered buses, which will be thoroughly cleaned after each use."

While healthy crew members were permitted to leave the ship and travel back home, Edwards noted that other members of the ship's staff "who have tested positive will remain on the ship."

"They will not get off, and right now none of those individuals require hospitalization," Edwards added. "However, if any of them do require hospitalization, we will take those individuals into our hospitals in New Orleans."

Newsweek reached out to Carnival Cruise Line for information on how many crew members had tested positive for COVID-19 and how many remain on board, but did not receive a response before publication.

Across the U.S. there have been over 451,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and at least 15,938 deaths. Over 24,000 people have recovered from the virus.