Louisiana is seeing a ‘concerning’ trend for possible increase in local COVID-19 cases, state officials say


Lafayette Consolidated Government officials will hold a June 19 press briefing at 3 p.m. News 10 will air it live:

BATON ROUGE, La. (KLFY) — Officials are starting to see signs that COVID-19 is increasing again after the relaxation of state guidelines for closures – especially in Acadiana.

Gov. John Bel Edwards and Office of Public Health Asst. Secretary Dr. Alex Billioud said some previous increases in COVID-19 cases came from increased testing. However, the current data is showing that certain areas of the state are seeing an increase in cases even as, here in Acadiana, testing slowed down thanks to Tropical Storm Cristobal. Hospitalizations are also up in Acadiana.

Edwards explains that the Department of Health did not update the number of new COVID-19 cases today as officials were dealing with some accuracy issues in the latest data. Some duplication of cases may have occurred and some non-Louisianan cases may have been reported in Louisiana. Edwards said once the data is more certain, the numbers will continue to be updated tomorrow with both day’s numbers.

Edwards was able to announce that only seven new deaths occurred over the last 24 hours, bringing the state’s total death toll to 2,957.

While deaths are staying relatively low, Edwards said the numbers are starting to show “concerning” trends. Most of the new cases, said Edwards, are not coming from nursing homes or congregant settings. They are instead coming from community spread. Spikes are also being reported in Texas, Mississippi and Arkansas, said Billioud.

The governor said that while there is a lot of talk of a “second wave” coming this fall or winter, Louisiana residents should understand that “we’re still very much in the first wave.” He asked every Louisianan to consider whether or not they have slacked off on mitigation activities, like washing hands, wearing masks, practicing social distancing and staying home.

Watch the full June 18 press briefing below:

“Flattening the curve isn’t something we do once and forget about it because it’s over,” said Edwards. COVID-19 is still very contagious and dangerous, he said. He urged residents to take “personal responsibility” in helping to stop the spread.

Edwards did note that while the state does not have the data to make a decision yet on whether to go to Phase 3 of the reopening effort, he does not right now see any data that shows the state should go back to Phase 1.

The Office of Behavioral Health also announced a new hotline related to mental and emotional health surrounding COVID-19. A new, free, 24-hour hotline has been established at 1-833-333-1132, which is staffed with specialists who can deal with substance abuse issues or mental health issues. However, those without those previous issues are also encouraged to call if they are dealing with high stress or anxiety related to the disease.

For those who prefer to text anonymously instead of speaking to a live person, you can text REACHOUT to 741741.

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