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Officials from Open Health Care Clinic gather information from patients in line to receive a curbside coronavirus test at the pop-up testing site outside Capital Missionary Baptist Church.

The St. Gabriel area in Iberville Parish continues to have the highest number of cases of the novel coronavirus of any census tract in the state. 

The east bank region of Iberville had 198 cases through Sunday and is home to state prison facilities that have had a high number of asymptomatic cases, the state has reported. 

Of the top 20 census tracts for cases in the state, almost all others were in Orleans or Jefferson parishes through Sunday.

The Donaldsonville area on the west bank of Ascension Parish was one exception.

With 108 cases, the area had second most in the Baton Rouge region behind only St. Gabriel, a nearby Mississippi River community. The Donaldsonville area is home to a nursing home case cluster and the parish jail, though few cases have been reported there.

The localized reporting figures comes as a one-day influx of new test data helped boost new positive cases in the Baton Rouge region for a second consecutive day on Wednesday, though longer term trends remained well below highs reached in early April and early May.

The uptick in new cases comes just days before the state begins the first phase of reopening businesses and public gathering places, but state officials said more than half of the 612 new cases across Louisiana on Wednesday came from new labs reporting historic data from earlier in the pandemic.

Statewide, nearly 9,900 new tests were reported as completed on Wednesday, well above daily counts from the past two days.

Health experts have noted that case numbers are affected by the pace of the testing process.

Meanwhile, new deaths from the virus in the 12-parish Baton Rouge area slowed for the second consecutive day after adding 20 on Monday, following a lag in reporting over the weekend.

Also, inside the central core of the Baton Rouge area, hospital bed use and intensive care unit use also fell slightly and remain down from higher levels in late April, the Louisiana Department of Health reported.

The Baton Rouge region has had 462 people die from the COVID-19 illness tied the virus since the outbreak began after adding five more on Wednesday, an Advocate analysis shows. 

East Baton Rouge Parish, the largest parish in the state by population, continues to have the most deaths in the region with 215, two more than on Tuesday, the parish Coroner's Office said.

The parish has the most cases and most deaths of any parish outside the New Orleans area but remains below the statewide averages on a per capita basis, The Advocate analysis shows. 

The 12-parish Baton Rouge area added 86 new cases on Wednesday and East Baton Rouge Parish contributed almost half of that growth with 42 new cases, the Louisiana Department of Health reported.  

The Baton Rouge area has had 5,810 cases of coronavirus since the viral outbreak began while the parish had has 2,487, the data show.

Statewide, 32,662 cases of coronavirus have been reported in Louisiana through Wednesday since the outbreak began, up 612 from the 32,050 reported on Tuesday.

Nearly 72% of Louisianians diagnosed with the virus through Sunday are presumed to have recovered, or more than 22,600 people, the state has estimated. 

In the Baton Rouge area, a combined 1,407 new tests were completed on Wednesday, well above the daily average of 884 tests completed since late April. At the same time, the area has also seen similar one-day highs since May 1 only to see numbers slip back down on the following days.

Even the relatively high count of new tests on Wednesday remains slightly below what Harvard University researchers say is needed at a minimum each day to safely reopen society and be able to trace viral outbreaks.   

Based on their research, the 12-parish area would need a daily average of 1,512 tests completed each day to meet that threshold. Since testing for the virus began, nearly 36,000 tests have been completed in the Baton Rouge area, about 15% of all tests statewide. 

There have been 2,315 deaths reported statewide, an increase of 34 from Tuesday.



Email David J. Mitchell at dmitchell@theadvocate.com

Follow David J. Mitchell on Twitter, @NewsieDave.