BATON ROUGE, La. (KLFY)- Louisiana is now seventh in the country in per-capita COVID-19 cases in the U.S.
During a press briefing Wednesday, Gov. John Bel Edwards said the state is seeing an uptick in new cases in younger patients between ages 18-29.
On Thursday, Edwards will sign a proclamation extending Phase 2 of reopening the state’s economy for 28 days.
The spike in new cases drove the governor’s decision to not advance the state to Phase 3, he said.
“We are heading in the wrong direction,” he said. Edwards said he thinks the state is capable of reversing the spread if individuals and businesses adhere to health-safety guidelines.
On Thursday, the Department of Health and Hospitals reported more than 900 new cases since Wednesday.
According to health officials, community spread, such as public gatherings, is the cause for the most recent spike in new COVID-19 cases.
“No one is immune to this illness,” Edwards said, urging younger Louisianans to understand that they are vulnerable to health risks.
“They are not invincible. They are not impervious to this virus,” the governor said.
Dr. Jimmy Guidry, state health officer, gave a matter-of-fact presentation directed at those questioning the importance of wearing masks.
Watch Dr. Guidry’s statements here:
BATON ROUGE, La. (KLFY)- June 22, 2020: Louisiana is not ready to move into a new phase of reopening its economy, Gov. John Bel Edwards said.
As of Monday, the state met “two grime milestones” with confirmed statewide COVID-19 cases surpassing 50,000 with more than 3,000 related deaths.
The increase in cases is being attributed to community spread. Bars, restaurants, graduation parties and other communal settings are being traced back to spikes in cases, Edwards said.
“It is not the direction we want to be headed in,” the governor said.
The initial second phase deadline (June 26) will be extended by 28 days, which means continued capacity limitations for certain businesses.
The Louisiana Department of Health recommended the state stay in phase two mostly because of COVID-19 hospitalizations. They are growing quickly, especially in Acadiana which reached its lowest point on June 10, but in 12 days coronavirus hospitalizations nearly doubled from 38 to 70.
“A lot of people say they are done with this virus, well, the virus isn’t done with us,” Edwards said.
The vast majority of new cases are related to community spread instead of spread in congregant settings like nursing homes. Cases are also growing fastest among young adults, showing compliance is a concern.
“I think younger people may be more hesitant to following health safety guidelines because they don’t think they are vulnerable,” Edwards said.
Patients with underlying conditions, such as diabetes and respiratory complications, remain more susceptible, but its everyone’s responsibility to help slow the spread, the governor said.
Edwards stated, “This remains a very contagious disease. It only takes a few careless people to change the course of our trajectory.”
Watch the governor’s full June 22 press conference here:
The governor hopes increased communication, spot-checking businesses, and a knowledgeable public will do what’s needed to reverse the numbers. Although he said current restrictions are adequate for limiting the spread now, more drastic measures are not off the table.
“We don’t want to have to go back and reimpose restrictions that we’ve already lifted, but obviously we will do that before we jeopardize our ability to deliver healthcare,” Edwards warned.
In two weeks, the governor’s team will take another deep dive into data and see how the state is adjusting to the news. There will be another follow-up dive into the numbers the following week to see if more restrictions need to be added or if phase three seems viable.
Basic prevention practices, as recommended by the CDC:
- Wear a mask when in public places.
- Wash your hands frequently.
- Practice social distancing.