Louisiana News

Louisiana Gov. Edwards: COVID-19 progress has been made, but has been uneven

(The Center Square) – Louisiana has made progress since it led the nation in coronavirus case growth, but that progress has been uneven, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said Friday.
The New Orleans region, once a national hot spot, seems to have gotten its outbreak under control. But the Baton Rouge, Monroe and Acadiana areas have all seen case growth of late, while Monroe and central Louisiana have both seen increases in hospitalizations per capita.
While no region is seeing the rapid growth greater New Orleans did a few weeks ago, the trends are concerning enough to public health officials to cause Edwards to extend most aspects of his “stay at home order” for two more weeks, he said.
“You never want to fight for the same terrain twice,” Edwards said, citing his Army training. “When you make progress, you don’t want to give it up.”
Edwards had said leading up to this week that the state was on track to enter phase one of the White House-approved process for lifting economic restrictions meant to slow the spread of the new coronavirus. But on Monday he announced Louisiana had not met the federal guidelines.
State health officials reported 710 new cases Friday, which is significantly higher than in recent days when the increase has been closer to 400. But officials said 381 of those cases could be attributed to two new commercial labs reporting results and were not necessarily indicative of a statewide trend.
Officials also reported 65 new deaths, bringing the official count to 1,927, along with 43 “probable deaths.” More than 28,700 cases have been reported so far, and more than 17,300 are “presumed recovered.”
More than 1,600 Louisiana residents are hospitalized with COVID-19, officials say, and 230 of them are on ventilators.
Republicans and business leaders increasingly are frustrated with Edwards for not lifting more restrictions faster, citing the economic damage. About a quarter of Louisiana’s workforce is unemployed.
Edwards also has been criticized for refusing to seriously consider lifting restrictions on a regional or parish-by-parish basis.
In a change from his executive order, Edwards has given restaurants permission to have outdoor dining while keeping the tables far enough apart to allow social distancing and employees wear masks. He also says worship services can be held outdoors but encouraged people who aren’t from the same households to give each other space and urges people who are in high risk groups not to attend.
During his briefing Friday, Edwards was asked if he had plans to go out for outdoor dining this weekend.
“I would feel comfortable going to a restaurant outdoors,” he said. “I don’t have plans until my wife tells me I do.”
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